Fiorentina and Milan kick off the Serie A season with an exciting clash at Artemio Franchi.
Though Fiorentina weren’t happy to miss out on Champions League football last year, the Rossoneri have spent the last seven months in the dog house, and were unimpressive in friendlies against Bayern Munich and Tottenham.
Even worse, the four Milanisti who played here back in March had to watch as their side squandered 80 minutes’ worth of good football and a 1-0 lead to let the Viola earn a comeback win. It was to be the last time that Milan played with any flair under Pippo Inzaghi on the road, the 2-1 defeat surely playing a part in the squad’s ultimate demoralisation.
Whilst Milan hope their ambitious transfers will have overshadowed their growing pains, Fiorentina’s wins against (admittedly depleted) Barcelona and Chelsea sides have conversely been upstaged. As if losing Mohamed Salah to rivals Roma wasn’t bad enough, the Viola may now lose midfield muse Joaquin to boyhood club Real Betis.
Though Fiorentina are likely to go into this one without the former Spanish international, Paulo Sousa’s system has adapted well so far, giving the likes of Federico Bernardeschi and Mario Suarez a key role. The young Italian starlet’s rise isn’t mere summer gossip, as he had already started a few games last year before falling prey to the Viola’s injury crisis in attack.
Whilst Fiorentina have only brought in Nikola Kalinic to supplement the promising Khouma Babacar and the oft-injured Giuseppe Rossi, Milan have gone for broke, signing Sevilla goal machine Carlos Bacca and Shakthar Donetsk star Luiz Adriano.
With the Rossoneri’s overhaul affecting just about every part of the team, Adriano Galliani hopes that new manager Sinisa Mihajlovic will instil a more disciplined approach with new signings Rodrigo Ely and Alessio Romagnoli. Injuries have also been unkind to the Rossoneri, with last year’s top scorer Jeremy Menez out with a back injury.
Keep an eye on: Carlos Bacca and Federico Bernardeschi
Fiorentina still have some teething problems at the back, and Bacca could just be the man to exploit them. Davide Astori hasn’t played on a weekly basis for two years, whilst Gonzalo Rodriguez will arguably have his hands full with Luiz Adriano. The Viola also lack a midfield enforcer. Bernardeschi was brilliant in friendlies this summer, and could well be the season’s rivelazione.
Last season: Fiorentina 2-1 Milan
Stat fact: Milan went unbeaten in a rocky first six away trips last year… before failing to win at all before April, when they beat Palermo 2-1 at the Renzo Barbera.
Fiorentina (probable): Tatarusanu, Tomovic, G. Rodriguez, Astori, M. Alonso; Borja Valero, M. Suarez; Bernardeschi, Mati Fernandez, Ilicic; Babacar
Milan (probable): Diego Lopez; De Sciglio, Ely, Romagnoli, Antonelli; Bonaventura, De Jong, Bertolacci, Honda; Bacca, L. Adriano
Words: Edo Dalmonte