While it may look like Fiorentina and AC Milan are in mighty similar boats this season—both employ former Sampdoria managers, both have newish ownership, both have European aspirations, both have that Vincenzo Montella connection, and both have started the season very poorly, leading many to call for the respective misters to get the axe.
These are just skin-deep parallels, though, so we figured we’d get someone who actually knows the Rossoneri to fill us in ahead of Sunday’s showdown at the San Siro. We were lucky enough to track down Peter Coiley (give him a follow) of our sister-site the AC Milan Offside, and he filled us in on a lot of what we don’t know.
Viola Nation: What is going on with Milan’s attack? There’s no shortage of good players there, but they’ve looked terrible this year. Are they still acclimating to the system or is there a deeper issue?
Peter Coiley: I think it’s a mixture of growing pains and team selection. We started out with Borini, Castillejo, Biglia, and Hakan in the lineup. Players that lack the creativity and quality that we need. Last game against Torino we saw a more appropriate lineup and while Hakan was still in, one can only assume Paqueta would’ve started if he was healthy. We also switched game plans to one that is more tactical with pressing, zone movements, and possession. The players have to adjust given that the last game plan was entirely different. Again with Torino, we saw more flashes of the “Giampaoloball” style of play but it’s just not there yet.
VN: Why hasn’t the Marco Giampaolo era kicked on yet? Milan have a better squad on paper than Samp; is it the expectations he’s facing, the increased scrutiny, consistently making the wrong choices with tactics and selections, or what?
PC: His selections and Milan’s lack of patience are what’s doing him in. He opted for very static players who are devoid of technical quality and with Milan’s fanbase, patience isnt a word in their dictionary. All too often I see fans jump the gun. In fact a large majority have said they’d like Giampaolo sacked if they can’t take 3 points from Fiorentina come Sunday, which I think is hardly fair given that we just put in a good shift on Thursday.
VN: Things seem pretty dire at the San Siro right now, so is there anyone who’s looked really sharp? On the flip side, who’s really struggled this far?
PC: I really love Rafael Leão. He’s everything we’ve been missing you top. Pace, strength, dynamism, he’s got what we need in a CF and I think he’s one for the future. His counterpart Piatek however has struggled mightily. His touch has failed him far too many times, he can’t seem to pick a pass when he needs to, and his finishing has been shambolic. He’s finally getting service, he’s just not done anything with it.
VN: Are there any Fiorentina players you’re worried about facing? Any weak links you see the Rossoneri picking on? Any matchups you’re excited to see?
PC: Chiesa has the makings to be a world-beater and I don’t want to face him on his day. Castrovilli is another who I’ve really enjoyed watching. And of course, Ribery still has the legs and the intelligence to do us dirty. I could see Lirola/Milenkovic being targeted strictly if we have Leão and Theo on that side since they can attack with pace. I’m really looking forward to Bennacer (hopefully) vs. Badelj. It’s young and promising vs. experienced and proven. That’ll be a battle to watch.
VN: Prediction time: What’s the final score line, who (if anyone) gets the goals, and what’s the overall tenor of the match?
PC: This game features two of the youngest sides to be fielded in quite a long time so I’m gonna say the inexperience from both teams leads to a 2-2 draw. I think Leão nets his first for the red and black while Kessie or Hakan scores a ball that finds them near the top of the box. For Fiorentina I see Kevin-Prince and Chiesa netting against us because of Chiesa’s dynamism and it wouldn’t be a Milan game if a former player didn’t score on us so it’s has to be KPB.
Thanks, Peter. Feel like that’s cleared some things up for us. Hoping for a cracker on Sunday.