Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 31/20
The season rumbles on across the top leagues around the world, and in Italy, it’s round 25 of the campaign for the Serie A clubs this weekend. On Saturday evening, Fiorentina will host AC Milan at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. There is, of course, a significant difference between the quality of these teams as well as their respective needs for the points on offer, which could obviously impact the outcome a certain way.
The season hasn’t gone too well or too badly for Fiorentina. Their survival in the Serie A doesn’t appear under threat at the moment, and they will nurture no realistic hope of making it into any European competition. They’re firmly set in the middle of the table, sitting 12th with 28 points from the opening 24 matches. That’s 11 points more than Hellas Verona who top the relegation zone, and 13 less that Atalanta in sixth. Therefore, unless there’s some kind of serious development between now and the end of the season, the Viola should be searching for their place among the likes of Torino (ninth, 31 points), Udinese (10th, 31), Monza (11th, 29), Empoli (13th, 28), Sassuolo (14th, 27) and Lecce (15th, 27).
Fiorentina are, however, competing in Europe this term. Having finished second to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Europa Conference League Group A, ahead of Scottish side Hearts and Latvian side RFS, they eliminated Braga in the knockout stage play-offs and await the first leg of the round-of-16 clash against Turkish club Sivasspor next week.
In all competitions, Vincenzo Italiano’s team have been playing their recent matches with a certain dose of consistency, in such a way that they lost to teams that were expected to beat them and they beat those that they should’ve beaten on paper. Their last-six run consists of a 1-2 home defeat to Bologna, a 1-0 defeat away to Juventus, a 0-4 win away to 10-men Braga, a 1-1 draw at home against Empoli, a 3-2 win at home over Braga, and a 0-3 win away to Verona.
Defender Nikola Milenkovic returned from injury to make the bench against Verona, and now he’s expected to start ahead of Lucas Martinez Quarta. Left-back Aleksa Terzic is, however, unavailable through an abductor muscle tear he picked up in Verona.
Pietro Terracciano will be in goal. Milenkovic will pair up with Igor in the heart of defence, with Dodo on the right and Cristiano Biraghi on the left. In midfield, Sofyan Amrabat will be joined by Giacomo Bonaventura and Rolando Mandragora. Arthur Cabral is expected to start upfront ahead of Luka Jovic, flanked by Nicolas Gonzalez and Jonathan Ikone.
The Rossoneri have practically lost every chance of keeping the Scudetto this season, with Napoli now far away in that race and an 18-point gap between them and Milan in third place on 47 points. It will now come down to securing a finish inside the top four and Champions League qualification, and if possible, trying to overtake city rivals Inter who are currently ahead on goal-difference. Looking behind, Milan should be wary of Lazio (fourth, 45 points), AS Roma (fifth, 44) and Atalanta (sixth, 41).
In the Champions League, Milan completed the first stage in second place in Group E, behind Chelsea and ahead of RB Salzburg and Dinamo Zagreb, and they’re set to travel to North London for a rematch with Tottenham Hotspur in the round of 16 with a one-goal advantage from the first leg.
Stefano Pioli’s team have improved their results recently, winning the last four matches in all competitions end putting a stop to a poor spell which preceded them. Their last-six run consists of a shocking 2-5 home defeat to Sassuolo, a 1-0 defeat to Inter in the Milan Derby, a 1-0 home win over Torino, a 1-0 home win over Spurs, a 0-1 win away to Monza, and a very important 2-0 win at home over Atalanta.
Pioli will have to arrange his attacking line without Rafael Leao this time. The in-demand Portugal international is suspended through yellow card accumulation, as is midfielder Rade Krunic.
With Mike Maignan back between the posts, Pierre Kalulu is expected to form a back line of three with Malick Thiaw and Fikayo Tomori. Sandro Tonali and Ismael Bennacer should pair up in the middle of the park, flanked by wing-backs Theo Hernandez and Davide Calabria. Further up, Charles De Ketelaere is likely to replace Leao and play on the left, with Brahim Diaz on the right and Olivier Giroud as the man leading the line through the middle.
Milan won the last two Serie A matches against Fiorentina and that run isn’t likely to stop now, when they need the points and their hosts not so much.
Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 31/20
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!