AC Milan vs Fiorentina
19:45 GMT 19th Feb 2017
Serie A
Stadium: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

AC Milan vs Fiorentina Preview and Prediction

Vincenzo Montella hosts his former club in a head-to-head for European places between inconsistent Milan and Fiorentina.

The Rossoneri will aim to repeat the kind of determined performance that saw them draw away to a powerful Lazio squad on Monday.

Montella will be happy to welcome back both Gabriel Paletta and Juraj Kucka from suspension. They will likely step in for Andrea Poli and summer signing Gustavo Gomez, although Montella is still without first choice defenders Alessio Romagnoli, Mattia De Sciglio and Luca Antonelli.

Milan’s early season form has seen a dip in 2017, with his paper-thin squad exposed by injuries. Not only is the squad short in defence, but it is also without Riccardo Montolivo and Jack Bonaventura. This has coincided with, or arguably resulted in, a dramatic drop in the form of the forwards, Carlos Bacca and Gianluca Lapadula.

Having picked up seven points out of a potential 21 since the New Year, Montella changed his formation for the draw against Lazio. He introduced a False Nine formation and rewarded loanee Gerard Deulofeu’s impressive performance against Bologna by placing him in this pivotal role. This has provided his team greater defensive stability, and has utilised the concept of ‘if you can’t score, don’t let them’ to good effect.

Fiorentina also enjoyed a positive result in the last round, with a 3-0 win over an underwhelming Udinese side. Having suffered a demoralising 4-0 defeat at Roma the week before, Coach Paulo Sousa was rewarded for maintaining faith in his squad and system, fielding a very similar team with a very different result.

The only negative from the game was a booking to key player Federico Bernardeschi, meaning that he will be suspended for this fixture. Sousa will likely replace him with a more offensive player in Josip Ilicic, and will hope the returning Nicola Kalinic can help shoulder Bernardeschi’s goal-scoring burden.

Sousa has been under increasing pressure in recent weeks with his team’s form, whilst better than Milan’s, inconsistent at best. Like their weekend rivals, the Tuscan side have been struggling defensively, and moving loan signing Carlos Sanchez into the back three has only served to expose the Colombian’s defensive frailties.

In spite of this, there may be evidence to suggest that the defence is finding its feet, after a resolute (and fortunate) victory away to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Europa League.

The Coach has been able to rely on a powerful forward line, with Kalinic and Bernardeschi boasting 20 goals and six assists between them in Serie A. By playing Spanish maestro Borja Valero alongside them in a trident, the team has a highly flexible formation, something that may test the fledgling Milan set up.

Sunday’s fixture pits seventh against eighth, and with only one point between them, fans are likely to enjoy a highly entertaining and equally matched game.

Form Guide: Milan (L L L W D) Fiorentina (W D W L W)

Keep an eye on: Suso (Milan) – The Spanish winger has really stepped up in the absence of Bonaventura, with six goals and seven assists to his name this season. Milan’s recent switch to a False 9 formation has placed further impetus on the wide positions, and Suso repaid this responsibility with a solo goal against Lazio.

Last season: Milan 2-0 Fiorentina

Stat fact: This fixture hasn’t ended goalless since the 2006-07 season, when the teams were managed by Carlo Ancelotti and Cesare Prandrelli respectively. The spoils of the last three matches have been shared equally, with each team winning two and the match twice ending in a draw.

Top tip: Over 2.5 Goals

Milan (probable)
: Donnarumma; Abate, Paletta, Gomez, Vangioni; Kucka, Sosa, Bertolacci; Suso, Bacca, Deulofeu

Suspended: None

Fiorentina (probable)
: Tatarusanu; Tomovic, Rodriguez, Astori; Chiesa, Vecino, Badelj, Maxi Oliveira; Ilicic, Borja Valero; Kalinic

Suspended: Bernardeschi