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AC Milan vs. Fiorentina: Preview

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Time to start the second-half slog against a team that la Viola embarrassed in the opener. This time around, it might be a little bit trickier.

A good time was had by all.
A good time was had by all.
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images
AC Milan vs. Fiorentina:Saturday, 16 January 2016 8:45 PM CET, 2:45 PM ET San Siro, Milan, Italy

Well, the first leg of the season went pretty well, all things considered. Fiorentina definitely tailed off a bit there at the end, but 4th place is nothing to sneeze at, especially with a chance to make a statement in a rival's stadium to turn things around. AC Milan, however, won't have forgotten their season-opening humiliation, and will won't be taken by surprise again.

The ref for this one is Daniele Doveri. His recent record with Fiorentina is W9 D1 L2; his most recent match with the Viola was the 1-0 win against Genoa. He awards a penalty once every 3 games on average, and pulls the red card out a bit less. Also, slakas favorite Luca Banti will be one of the goal line refs.

AC Milan

Siniša Mihajlović has, against all odds, hung onto his job thus far, despite a disappointing campaign that's even more painful for the Diavoli faithful given the amount of money the club splashed out this summer. He has the Rossoneri sitting in 8th, and led them to a win over Carpi in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday. In typical Miha fashion, he's taken a collection of talented attackers and opted to grind out results, leading to a miserable +2 goal differential. His team also hasn't defended the San Siro particularly well, with a record of W5 D2 L2 on their home turf. He'll have to do without goalkeeper Diego López (knee), centerback Rodrigo Ely (foot), and forward Jérémy Ménez (hip).

After trying out a 4-3-3 and a 4-3-1-2 earlier in the season, the Serbian has settled on a fairly basic 4-4-2. The fullbacks get forward well, with Juraj Kucka sitting deep to cover and Andrea Bertolacci given more license to get forward. Giacomo Bonaventura has been quite good for them on the left. The strikers are small and nippy; both look to drift around the front and work the channels, rather than win balls in the air. Carlos Bacca leads the club with 10 goals this season; he and Bonaventura are the real dangermen. Since this is a Mihajlović team, they'll probably sit deep and look to break quickly and directly through long balls into the channels.

Fiorentina

After a humiliating loss to Lazio, la Viola are reeling, as much as a 4th-place team can be said to be reeling. Paulo Sousa's system has been exposed in a manner similar to Vincenzo Montella's: vulnerable against quick counterattacks, especially through the wide areas. With a thin squad providing him with limited options, he'll be hoping that Daniele Pradè and the Della Valles can provide some reinforcements sooner rather than later.

The Portuguese mister won't have the element of surprise this time, and with Rodrigo Ely out, he'll have to find a new strategy. Of his own players, he'll be missing Gonzalo Rodríguez (suspension) and Milan Badelj (thigh), although he'll be glad to welcome back a fully-fit Josip Iličić. With a number of fringe players linked to moves away, this could be a chance for players like Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Suárez to audition for new employers.

Projected lineups

AC Milan (4-4-2): Donnarumma; Abate, Alex, Romagnoli, de Sciglio; Honda, Bertolacci, Kucka, Bonaventura; Bacca, Luiz Adriano

Fiorentina (3-4-2-1): Tătăruşanu; Roncaglia, Astori, Tomović; Bernardeschi, Vecino, Suárez, Alonso; Rossi, Valero; Kalinić

Shameless prediction

A dour 0-1 win to Fiorentina courtesy of a Nikola Kalinić tap in from a Borja Valero cross. It'll probably be a pretty ugly game, honestly, given Miha's tendencies, with a lot of stop-start and a hatful of bookings.

How to watch

TV: RAI has this one in Italy, and it's on BT1 in the UK. For the US crowd, it doesn't look too good.

Online: Other live viewing options can be found here. Don't post illegal streams. Just. Don't. Do. It. As always, you can also follow along with us live on Twitter. If you haven't already, join the community on Viola Nation, and join in the discussion below.