Serie A Preview :  Fiorentina v AC Milan

Serie A Preview :  Fiorentina v AC Milan – Stadio Artemio Franchi – December 30

For a AC Milan side, struggling to stay inside the Top 10 of the Serie A Table, Saturday’s 0-2 defeat to an inspired Atalanta was another nail in manager Gennaro Gattuso’s coffin. Gattuso has been faulted with commiting tactical errors like preferring Croatian striker Nikola Kalinic to £35million striker Andre Silva, who has feature in only 11 of the 18 games played by his club, despite his hefty price tag. While Silva is yet to earn himself a goal from those 11 outings, he has been a hit in the Europa League, getting an astonishing 8 from just 6 games and helping his side top the Group D cluster and enter into the Round of 32.  Kalinic, meanwhile has featured in all of Milan’s Serie fixtures and has 4 goals to his credit. In all likelihood, he will be part of the Rossoneri starting XI against Fiorentina (his former club) at the Artemio Franchi stadium on Saturday.  Milan have been low on scoring fire-power with Suso (5 goals) being the top scorer for the season followed by Kalinic’s 4 and Giacomo Bonaventura’s 3. The AC Milan back line that has names like Ricardo Rodríguez, Alessio Romagnoli and the legendary ex-Juventus center-back Leonardo Bonucci dotting their ranks, have conceded as many goals as 15th placed Genoa (26), thus contributing to an unhealthy goal average of minus 3.

Fiorentina with a goal count of 27 scored and only 19 conceded look more balanced staistically going into the Artemio Franchi clash on December 30. Folks like Giovanni Simeone (5 goals), Khouma Babacar, Federico Chiesa and Cyril Thereau with 4 goals apiece have all contributed to the Florentian side’s search for goals. The defense consisiting of Cristiano Biraghi, Davide Astori and German Pezzella forming the back and Marco Sportiello between the posts have been exemplary of late, conceding just one goal from their last five games and maintaining 4 clean sheets. Unbeaten in their last 5 outings and with draws against League leaders Napoli and a top-notch  Lazio to boast of, Fiorentina look the much more confident side of the two. They are the bookmakers favourites to take the clash at Stadio Artemio Franchi on Saturday.

AC Milan have an uphill task to extricate themselves after their morale shattering defeat to League bottom-scraper Verona 0-3 and Atalanta within the space of a week. But with just 2 points separating them from their weekend visitors (Milan 24, Fiorentina 26), a win for the hosts would take them ahead of their 8th placed rivals. Taking  into account Fiorentina’s recent form and the advantage of a home outing, that doesn’t look likely.  A draw which could be a likely result, too, will only help the cause of the hosts.