Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Fiorentina v Milan: Sousa and Mihajlovic seek early markers

SoccerNews in Serie A 21 Aug 2015

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Paulo Sousa and Sinisa Mihajlovic will look to set an early marker when their respective new teams Fiorentina and Milan face off in their Serie A opener.

It has been a busy close-season for both clubs, with Fiorentina head coach Sousa and Milan counterpart Mihajlovic keen to put a stamp on their new squads.

Mihajlovic, who won his competitive debut in a 2-0 win over Perugia in the Coppa Italia on Monday, arguably has the greater task in reviving Milan, who are considered very much fallen giants.

The 46-year-old left Sampdoria to take over from Filippo Inzaghi, who failed to replicate his success at San Siro as a player and paid the price for a disappointing 10th-placed finish.

Change has occurred on and off the pitch. Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol confirmed an agreement to buy 48 per cent of the club in August, while Alessio Romagnoli joined from Roma to add strength in defence and Carlos Bacca and Luiz Adriano signed from Sevilla and Shakhtar Donetsk respectively to boost Milan’s forward line.

Colombia international Bacca turned down the chance of playing in the UEFA Champions League this season to switch to San Siro, but had no hesitation in moving to Italy.

“The difference between Milan and Sevilla is very simple: my former club was big while my current one is the top, among the very best,” he told Corriere dello Sport ahead of the visit to Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Fiorentina dismissed Vincenzo Montella in June citing a breakdown in trust for their decision and Sousa was subsequently appointed as his successor.

The task for the Portuguese is to help Fiorentina finally muscle their way into Serie A’s top three after three consecutive fourth-placed finishes.

To do so, Sousa has added the likes of Nikola Kalinic and Mario Suarez to his squad and the latter wants to make an early statement in their bid to break into the Champions League places.

“We have to simply focus on playing well against Milan,” he told Corriere. “We will do everything to ensure we do not disappoint, but we will take things one match at a time.

“We will always try and win, to aim as high as possible and try and qualify for the Champions League.”

Fiorentina are also set to be boosted by the return of Giuseppe Rossi whose cruel luck with injuries saw him miss the entirety of last season with a serious knee injury.

Milan, though, are set to be without forward Jeremy Menez – a rare bright spot in an otherwise poor 2014-15 season – owing to a back injury.

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