Serie A Preview: AC Milan v. Fiorentina

Date: Sunday, January 17, 2016

Kickoff: 2:45 PM ET (USA)  /  20:45 CET (ITA)

League Position: Milan (8), Fiorentina (4)

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy

Hooray we’re in the Coppa Italia semifinal! You’ll forgive me if that’s the most I celebrate for now, won’t you? The win over Carpi came on the heels of a 1-1 draw against Roma that doesn’t look bad on paper, yet with as many opportunities as Milan had to win that game it still leaves an uneasy feeling heading into the second half of the Serie A season.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Rossoneri with Fiorentina coming to town fresh off their own disappointing result. A 3-1 thrashing at the hands of Lazio in Florence saw them drop out of the Champions League places for the first time in a while, and Paulo Sousa will be eager to guide them directly back into the top three.

Both teams are in the midst of figuring out how to strengthen their sides in the window but will clash once more as they are constructed this season, after a far too easy 2-0 victory for La Viola over 10-man Milan on the opening weekend.

*Chewbacca noise*

*Chewbacca noise*

Tale of the Tape

Last 6 Serie A matches:

Milan: WDDWLD

Fiorentina: DWLWWL

La Viola hold huge leads over us in goals scored (37 to 25), possession (63% to 50%), and pass accuracy (87% to 78%). So, that’s not good. But his should be a real change of pace from our past several rounds, even against Roma, where we really bossed play. I actually like our chances to score on a break more than I do the chance we actually break a team down.

We’ll have to make the shots count though. Fiorentina only allow about 9 per match. Both teams average about 15 themselves, with 56% of Fiorentina’s coming from long-range. We’re at 55% inside the box, yet they’ve scored 12 more goals than us.

8 goals conceded from set plays now guys! It’s like we decided to stop working on defending them in training like 3 years ago. Fiorentina have only netted 4 from set pieces, but if anyone can help them add to their total, it’s us.

Fiorentina have a remarkably balanced attack, proceeding up the left, right, and center of the pitch almost equally one third of the time. They also complete nearly 200 more passes than us per match, with average streak of over 6 compared to our 4. Once again, we’ll have to make the most of the possession we have.

Missing Pieces

I see some reports saying Alex is in, some saying Alex is out. Let’s hope he’s in after watching Zapata on Wednesday. Ely, Diego Lopez, and Menez round out the injury list, as Balotelli supposedly becomes available this weekend.

Fiorentina will be without disqualified, first choice center back Gonzalo Rodriguez and Croatian midfielder Milan Badelj.

Possible Line-up

Donnarumma

De Sciglio – Alex – Romagnoli – Antonelli

Honda – Kucka – Bertolacci – Bonaventura

Bacca – Niang

Abate and De Sciglio are just baffling players to me, and have higher upsides than Antonelli. But the latter is arguably more consistent than the other two, and I like De Sciglio on the right much more, so that’s my fullback tandem this week. As I said earlier I’m not sure Alex is fit but if he is, he’s in next to Romagnoli.

The midfield is still an amorphous work in progress, but I like it a lot better without Montolivo. I’d like to see more out of Bertolacci to be honest, but he’s just now getting to play consistently. And Honda better keep improving or else Boateng may seriously challenge him for his spot.

Bacca and Niang are the no-brainers up top. Really interested to see how Balotelli is utilized should he actually return.

Two pretty talented cheerleaders.

Two pretty talented cheerleaders.

What to Watch for:

Danger Men – Gotta go with the plural on this one because Kalinic and Ilicic are both in fine form for the visitors. Kalinic has 10 goals, Ilicic has 9. Ilicic has 4 assists, Kalinic has 3. Being somehow accountable for over half the teams’ goals certainly qualifies these two players. Neither is much of an aerial threat, which is good news for a team that can’t defend set pieces, but they’ve had no problem making their own goals this season, especially with a strong midfield behind them.

No Retreat – Fiorentina will likely control the ball for long stretches of this match. That’s not what I’m worried about though. I’m worried that we will simply invite them into our half and try to play stout defense in front of Donnarumma, allowing them to shoot from distance and content not letting them get close. The only problem with that is La Viola are very, very good at shooting from distance. We cannot sit back for 90 minutes, especially if we get a fairly early goal. If we take a late lead I can see (though not agree with necessarily) us sitting back, but our goal will be under siege for the entirety of the match if we can’t stop Fiorentina from waltzing right through the midfield unabated.

 

About Dave Lamb

Dave Lamb is a lifelong Milan supporter, public school teacher, and aspiring stand-up comedian living in Boston. You can follow him on twitter @DaveLambComedy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation