In this deeply dissatisfying season, Fiorentina gear themselves up for another match that the players probably don’t care about all that much as AC Milan come to town. The Viola won the away leg at the San Siro earlier this year, albeit against a side decimated by injuries, in dreary 0-1 fashion back in December. Worth noting here is that the Curva Fiesole will be empty for the first half, as the tifosi are going to skip the first half in protest of the Della Valles again.
The referee for this one is 37-year-old Maurizio Mariano of Aprilia. In 15 Serie A matches this year, he’s handed out a staggering 84 yellow cards, 8 red cards, and 6 penalty kicks, so expect him to be central to the action. He’s reffed 3 Fiorentina matches in his career, with all 3 ending up as Viola wins. Weirdly enough, last time we saw him was in when these two team tangled last.
The match will he played Saturday, 11 May 2019, at 7:30 PM GMT/2:30 PM EST at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The forecast calls for a perfect spring day at the stadium: cloudy enough to keep the sun off but without any threat of wind or rain while staying warm enough for a sweater or shirtsleeves.
There’s not really much to say here, is there? Fiorentina, the most disappointing team in calcio this year, haven’t won a match at home in the league in 2019. They’ve managed just a single Serie A win in that span as well. They crashed out of the Coppa Italia, the only thing that gave anyone any semblance of hope, in humiliating fashion against Atalanta, a team that employs a number of former Viola rejects. They’ve taken a single point off relegation-bound Frosinone, and got linked by Empoli and a host of their own players on loan in the Derby del’Arno last week. It’s dire, folks.
Manager Vincenzo Montella has responded to this run of, er, “form” and the absences of CB Germán Pezzella (face surgery) and CM Jordan Veretout (suspension) by calling up a host of Primavera players: CB Giorgio’s Antzoulas, RB Gabrielle Ferrarini, and RW Christian Koffi will get their first calls up to the senior side along with AM Tòfol Monticello and CF Dušan Vlahović.
Given how checked out most of the usual suspects have looked, don’t be surprised if some of the kids get some burn in, too, as extended minute in Serie A will both help Montella decide if they can contribute next year and allow him to send management a message about the quality of the squad, much like he did with poor Josh Brillante against AS Roma half a decade ago. Tactically, it’ll be a 4-3-3ish shape with all the cohesion of a pack of rabid chinchillas, along with the usual prayers for Federico Chiesa or maybe Luis Muriel to conjure something out of nothing.
If Fiorentina have been Serie A’s biggest disappointment this year, especially in the second leg of the season, then the Rossoneri haven’t been too far behind. With just 8 points from their last 8 matches, they’ve missed a fantastic opportunity to clinch a Champions League spot and maybe even claw past eternal rivals Inter Milan for third; instead, they sit in 5th place, having been passed by everybody’s darlings (ours too) Atalanta. But don’t worry, Casciavit: another year of missing that CL lucre will trigger another round of FFP restrictions on the club which will force them to, um, spend another €300 million this summer. The system works.
Manager Gennaro Gattuso is on the hot seat at the moment, and a massive list of unavailable players won’t help his cause. CB Mattia Caldara (knee), RB Davide Calabria (fibula), CM Giacomo Bonaventura (knee), and AM Lucas Paquetá (suspension) are out, and LB Ivan Strinić and DM Lucas Biglia are questionable too. Gattuso, though, still has the personnel to run his usual 4-3-3, with the danger mostly coming from Polish frontman Krzysztof Piątek, whose 21 goals give him an outside shot of knicking capocannoniere honors.
Milan will do what they usually do: press intensely and try to mirror their manager’s intensity to physically overpower their opponents and grind down their will en route to a brutish goal or two. The trickiness of Suso on the wing and the set piece threat of Hakan Çalhanoğlu, along with the midfield physicality of guys like Franck Kessié and Tiémoué Bakayoko in the middle, will be the catalyst, especially with Paquetá’s magic in the middle.
Fiorentina (4-3-3): Lafont; Laurini, Ceccherini, Milenković, Biraghi; Dabo, Fernandes, Gerson; Chiesa, Muriel, Mirallas
Milan (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Conti, Zapata, Romagnoli, Rodríguez; Kessié, Bakayoko, Mauri; Çalhanoğlu, Piątek, Suso
How to watch
TV: Small chance of it. Check the full international listings here.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
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