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Milan v Fiorentina
Serie A Match Preview
The weekend’s top match in Italy takes place at the San Siro on Sunday night as Milan host Fiorentina with one very important spectator in the stands.
ONLY A WIN WILL SAVE MIHAJLOVIC FROM MILAN EXIT
We are exactly halfway through the Serie A season and Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic is under severe pressure to deliver three points on Sunday, or be prepared to look for a new job. Volatile club President Silvio Berlusconi has pretty much ushered an ultimatum to the Serb, stating that it’s win or bust with legendary coach Marcello Lippi waiting in the wings. Last weekend’s 1-1 draw in the capital against Roma was followed up by a narrow 2-1 Italian Cup win against Carpi on Wednesday, but that only seems to be delaying the inevitable and Sunday could confirm Mihajlovic’s abdication from the Milan throne. If matters on the field were not enough for him to deal with, he has also seen the departure of Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano this week after just six months at the club, preferring to take a lucrative contract in China than fight for his place at the Rossoneri.
FIORENTINA MISS THE CHANCE TO REACH THE SUMMIT
A surprising 3-1 defeat at home to Lazio last weekend denied Paolo Sousa’s Fiorentina side a place at the top of the Serie A. Now the Portuguese tactician has to pick his players up for the trip north, hoping for a similar outcome to the one they achieved the last time they were in town when they destroyed Inter by four goals to one. A Champions League place is still the primary target for La Viola, the best online sports betting sites currently quote them at *2.25 to do just that. They also have unsettled players in the camp, with Italian international striker Giuseppe Rossi talking to Genoa over a possible move, after failing to hold down a first-team spot since returning from a debilitating injury. Sousa himself has already stated that his team are way ahead of schedule in terms of their league position; he will be hoping that last weekend was just a blip and not the start of dramatic plunge down the standings.
Mihajlovic has no new injury worries ahead of the weekend with Italian international striker Mario Balotelli finally making the substitutes bench after his long lay-off. The player who seems to write his own headlines, is currently priced at *3.00 on the betting exchanges to score during the 90 minutes on Sunday. Colombian Carlos Bacca and French youngster M’BayeNiang will more than likely be the starting duo up front.
Fiorentina will be without Argentine defender Gonzalo Rodriguez as he serves a one-match suspension. His place should be taken by Nenad Tomović. Sousa will also have to make do without Croatian midfielder Milan Badelj, who picked up an injury in the home defeat to Lazio. The impressive Nikola Kalinic will play as the lone striker for the Tuscan’s.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Milan (4-4-2) Donnarumma; De Sciglio, Romagnoli, Alex, Abate; Bonaventura, Bertolacci, Kucka, Honda; Bacca, Niang
Fiorentina (3-4-2-1) Tatarusanu; Tomović, Astori, Roncaglia; Alonso, Borja Valero, Vecino, Bernardeschi; Fernandez, Ilicic; Kalinic
HEAD TO HEAD
If Mihajlovic needed encouragement ahead of Sunday’s clash then he would do well to avoid the record books, which show that Milan haveonly won one of their last eight league matches against Fiorentina. The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 1-1 draw, with the first meeting of this campaign on matchday one seeing Sunday’s visitors run out comfortable 2-0 winners. The last time the Rossoneri beat Fiorentina on their own patch was back in 2010, when the match was settled by a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic – How Mihajlovic would love to be able to call upon his services on Sunday.
Milan 2.40 Draw 3.20 Fiorentina 3.10
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)