Fresh off the first win of the season, a no-longer-bottom-of-the-table Fiorentina travels to Milan to take on the Rossoneri. This will be the 172nd meeting between the sides dating back to 1931; the Viola haven’t fared well in this fixture over the years, managing a record of W49 D47 L75 with a -56 goal difference. Over their last 10 in the Serie A, though, AC Milan haven’t had it all their way, as Fiorentina are W3 D4 L3. In this fixture last season, the good guys notched their first away win of the campaign over a shorthanded Casciavit in a dour 0-1 win.
The referee for this one is 41-year-old Piero Giacomelli of Trieste, who’s one of the quickest to go for the red card or the penalty kick in Italy. In the 15 Fiorentina matches he’s overseen, the Viola are a perfectly symmetrical W5 D5 L5. Last we saw him was in the second week of the season, overseeing a dismal 2-1 defeat at the hands of Genoa in which, true to form, he awarded the Viola a very soft PK.
The match will be played on Sunday, 29 September 2019, at 6:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST, at the Stadio San Siro in Milan. The forecast calls for a pretty nice day, albeit a bit warmer than the players might like. There’s little chance of rain, at least, so it should be a pleasant evening in Lombardy.
With 6 points from 5 matches and Serie A’s second-worst attack—just 3 goals—it’s safe to say that this new Milan project isn’t off to a flying start. They sit 13th in the table and don’t really look like the sort of outfit that’s going to mount an assault on the Champions League places right now; after a disastrous outing against Torino yesterday turned from a 0-1 away win to a 2-1 loss within minutes, you’ve pretty well got a perfect microcosm of the season.
Manager Marco Giampaolo is reportedly facing the axe if he can’t turn things around soon. He’ll be without GK Pepe Reina (suspended) and CB Mattia Caldara (knee), while trequartista Lucas Paquetá (hamstring) is an injury doubt as well. He’s abandoned his beloved 4-3-1-2 of late in favor of a 4-3-3 which seems to suit his personnel better. Nevertheless, the team’s still got a serious case of the yips, it seems, and is, to put it simply, playing a very uninspired brand of football right now, leading to some nostalgia for mister Genarro Gattuso, which isn’t a phrase I ever thought I’d write.
The defense remains pretty stout, led by captain Alessio Romagnoli and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. It’s the midfield and the attack that have been sputtering badly. Rafael Leão has impressed in limited minutes on the left wing, so the right side of the Viola defense will have to focus on him. The midfield has been oddly deficient in creativity, so Montella could instruct his engine room to press hard and discombobulate the opposition even more, thus starving a hesitant-looking Krzysztof Piątek of chances. Given the Pole’s predatory instincts, though, he’s a decent bet to snap out of his funk at any moment. And don’t forget that former Viola man Ante Rebić could start as well, which means that a goal del ex is very much in play.
Ding, dong, the streak is dead! After 18 straight Serie A matches without a win, Fiorentina finally edged past Sampdoria 2-1 on Wednesday. It wasn’t exactly a powerhouse showing, as 10-man Samp scored a late goal and applied some pressure towards the end, but whatever. The result also takes the Viola all the way up to 15th place in the table on 5 points; that 15th is such an improvement is as damning an indictment of the club’s recent history as any you can imagine.
Manager Vincenzo Montella, facing his old employer, will have his full squad at his disposal, although he’ll probably have to rotate the XI a bit after the midweek clash. Riccardo Sottil, Dušan Vlahović, and Kevin-Prince Boateng will all hope to get a start up top next to Federico Chiesa, while Milan Badelj and Martín Cáceres could also drop to the bench, meaning that Marco Benassi, Szymon Żurkowski, Luca Ranieri, and Federico Ceccherini should all be on high alert as well.
Likely missing Ribery’s creativity from the start, Fiorentina could turn to more of a pressure-based approach here, relying more on winning the ball high up the pitch than letting the Frenchman probe for opportunities. The creative burden will likely fall on Gaetano Castrovilli and Chiesa, although Sottil’s ability to run with the ball could also be a lethal outlet. Benassi’s also a decent bet to get on the scoresheet, given that his runs from midfield into the box could be even more difficult for opponents to track as they look for the Viola forwards, who often wander wide and deep, leaving the center backs with nobody to mark and a headful of questions.
How to watch
TV: Looks like RAI Italia will have this one, so check the full international television listings here.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams. If you’re in the US, ESPN+ is showing it; sign up using this link if you don’t have an account yet and Viola Nation will get a little bit of cash (Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.).
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
With some tired legs and tired minds on both teams after the midweek fixtures, we wouldn’t be shocked to see this one turn into a rather difficult, churning affair in the middle. Given the fragility at the back evinced by the Viola rearguard, it should be fascinating to see a poor defense and a miserable attack go head to head. We’ll default to the form of the respective attackers for this one and call it a 0-1 win for Fiorentina with a Chiesa-assisted goal for Vlahović as the difference.