While this is normally an intriguing enough fixture between two storied clubs that seem to dislike each other a bit, there’s plenty of extra drama here. The Rossoneri are led by former Viola manager Vincenzo Montella. Former Viola captain and “next Pirlo” Ricardo Montolivo wears the armband for them. They just picked up Matias Fernandez (currently injured) on loan, and have publicly coveted midfield mainstay Milan Badelj for the past season.
With so many plotlines at work, expect a tense match under the care of referee and longtime slakas nemesis Daniele Orsato. In their last 10 matches against the fallen giants, the Viola are W5 D3 L2 and haven’t dropped points at the Franchi since 2014.
While they only sit 10th in the table, Fiorentina do have a game in hand due to the rain-out at Genoa; a win here would vault them right into the hunt for the Champions League places. With a key tilt against Qarabag on Thursday and then a trip to Torino on Sunday, a win would do quite a bit to build some momentum.
After rotating the squad for the hard fought-fought midweek draw at Udinese, Paulo Sousa is likely to go for his first eleven. Matias Vecino (hamstring) will miss this one but should be back soon, and Davide Astori (calf) is also likely to sit this one out. Carlos Sanchez has locked down a spot in midfield for the former, but replacing the latter is trickier. Sebastien de Maio has the experience, but Sousa may opt for the more athletic Carlos Salcedo against a pacey front three. Also of note is the news that teenage attacker Ianis Hagi is training with the senior side, having missed the Primavera match against SPAL.
Fresh off a 2-0 win over Lazio, Montella doesn’t have to worry about midweek European matches to distract from the mission of reclaiming a top spot. Currently sitting in 6th, they’ve scored 8 goals through 5 matches, but allowed 7. Cousin Vinnie has them playing a more direct style than Fiorentina fans will recall, with a pacey and fluid tridente the main threat, although the defense can be a bit ragged: note the 3 red cards already this season.
Montella will have to do without centerback Cristian Zapata (ankle) and midfielders Andrea Bertolacci (hamstring) and Mati Fernandez (hamstring). However, having Carlos Bacca—5 goals in 5 matches—as well as Mamadou Niang and Suso, who’ve contributed a pair and a single goal respectively, helps cover for any weaknesses. There’s a chance that 19-year-old rightback Davide Calabria will start over veteran Ignazio Abate, and Cousin Vinnie may drop Montolivo in favor of Jose Sosa.
Fiorentina (3-4-2-1): Tatarusanu; Tomovic, Gonzalo, de Maio; Tello, Badelj, Sanchez, Olivera; Valero, Ilicic; Kalinic
AC Milan (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Abate, Paletta, Romagnoli, de Sciglio; Kucka, Montolivo, Bonaventura; Suso, Bacca, Niang
How to watch
TV: Check BeIn and RAI in your local listings, but this may be another internet-only match for many of us.
Online: For a full list of streams, check here. As always, we’ll have a match thread posted shortly before kickoff for everyone to follow along with the action.
Ted’s Blind Guess Department
Let’s call it a 2-0, with an early Kalinic tap-in and a late Zarate smash.