AC Milan returns to home comforts as they host Fiorentina at the San Siro, with a win needed to stay relevant in the Serie A title race.

AC Milan’s title charge took another hit after a disappointing draw against newly promoted side Cremonese in midweek. It was also their second straight game where they dropped points, keeping them eight points adrift of the top.

Stefano Pioli will be keen to stay relevant in their attempts to retain the Serie A title. Another set of dropped points will take Milan to a near-catastrophic zone, as a comeback from such a precarious position will become very difficult, if not improbable.

Milan’s performances have been a bother for Pioli lately. After scrapping through a win against Spezia, courtesy of a late Olivier Giroud goal, the manager was frustrated by their midweek performances. They have a good opportunity to get back on track when they host Fiorentina at the San Siro, as a win would be the minimum requirement.

It took a late winner from Luka Jovic to secure a 2-1 win over Salernitana in midweek, which was Fiorentina’s fifth straight win in all competitions. Vincenzo Italiano will be hopeful of extending that run and the stats back the Viola at this stage.

Fiorentina have lost only one of their last six games against Milan. They have also won their last three games on the road in all competitions, which came against Spezia, Sampdoria, and Latvian club RFS.

They are also unbeaten in their last three Serie A away games, and Italiano would love to make it a fourth. Fiorentina will come into the San Siro fancying their chances and deal another blow to Milan’s title ambitions.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

Pioli continues to reel with injury-related absentees in his squad. While the list has shortened in recent weeks, five players are still out of contention. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has perpetually remained on the sidelines this term, joined by Mike Maignan, Alexis Saelemaekers, Sergino Dest, and Davide Calabria.

Milan have plenty of personnel to cover those missing stars and have largely played the season without them. Pioli is expected to recall some of his usual regulars, as Theo Hernandez, Olivier Giroud, and Rafael Leao could return to the starting lineup.

Giroud, in particular, is silently proving his worth to Milan. Milan have gone on to win those clashes in the 17 of 18 games where he has scored for the Rossoneri since signing. He will lead the line and will have the support of Leao, Junior Messias, and Brahim Diaz in the attacking third.

Otherwise, Pioli will name a familiar side to face Fiorentina, with Simon Kjaer and Fikayo Tomori, fresh from his disappointment with the England squad selection, will marshall the backline.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1)Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Bennacer, Tonali; Messias, Diaz, Leao; Giroud

Fiorentina

The return of Jovic vitalised the Fiorentina side, and the striker will be looking forward to starting at the San Siro. There’s considerable competition from Arthur Cabral, but the Serbian will be the clear favourite to lead the line.

Fiorentina will have to contend without Argentine winger Nicolas Gonzalez and fellow wide man Riccardo Sottile, while Gaetano Castrovilli remains a long-term absentee. There could be starts for former Milan players Riccardo Saponara and Giacomo Bonaventura, with the latter likely to play right behind Jovic.

Nikola Milenkovic is the bonafide leader of the Fiorentina defence and will partner Igor Julio at the back. Sofyan Amrabat and Rolando Mandragora will take the central midfield berths.

Jovic will have support from Christian Kouame from the left and Jonathan Ikone from the other wing. Bonaventura will take the creative responsibility to provide the ammunition, hoping the front three weaves their magic upfront.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1)Terracciano; Dodo, Milenkovic, Julio, Biraghi; Amrabat, Mandragora; Ikone, Bonaventura, Kouame; Jovic

Key Stats

  • AC Milan are undefeated in 28 of their last 30 matches in Serie A.
  • AC Milan have scored at least 2 goals in 7 of their last 8 home matches in the Serie A.
  • Fiorentina have won their last 3 matches in Serie A.
  • Fiorentina have scored at least 2 goals in their last 4 matches in Serie A.
  • Fiorentina have lost only one of their last 11 Serie A matches against Milan in the first half of the season.

Player to Watch

Olivier Giroud

The veteran Frenchman will be travelling to Qatar, aiming to make a mark again for France. Incidentally, he did not score a single goal in the 2018 edition and will be hoping to break his duck in the World Cup. However, he’s been on goalscoring form for Milan, which Pioli would want to continue for the final matchday before the break.

His goals have proven vital for Milan in all competitions. However, if Milan wishes to get back on track in the Serie A title race, they would need the Frenchman’s experience up front to lead the charge. Against Fiorentina, the 36-year-old has a good chance to showcase just that.

Prediction

AC Milan 1-0 Fiorentina

The showdown at the San Siro is expected to be a cagey one. Fiorentina are a good defensive unit, capable of keeping the backline tight irrespective of the opposition’s quality. On the other hand, Milan are desperate to get a win on board and will pose an attacking threat.

Considering the home advantage and Milan’s form at the San Siro, the Rossoneri are expected to edge the contest with a narrow scoreline. Additionally, Milan have found it tough to create chances in the last two games, and the trend could continue against a cagey Fiorentina side.

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