Fiorentina will be arriving at the San Siro on Sunday just a single point behind us on the table. One point. Playing in the Europa League yesterday was likely all that much more of a reminder that they’ll want to be in Europe again next season. Milan were likely painfully aware all week that they are not playing in Europe again this season, and with the hope of an infusion of cash finally this summer, are all the more desperate to get back to European competition so that they can actually attract big players to the team. When you consider that both sides also earned a point when they last played each other in September in a nil-nil draw, on Sunday, both sides absolutely will have a point to prove.
|Bacca also has a point to prove... if he gets to play|
Nevermind that Montella is best remembered for his days at Fiorentina, as are Montolivo and Mati Fernandez. There have been plenty of fierce battles between these two clubs in recent years either on the pitch, in the mercato, or on the table, and there has been plenty of animosity between them. Fiorentina may be a point behind us, but they beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-0 in the Europa League yesterday with an incredible free kick from Bernardeschi. Let’s hope they’re extra tired.
A couple of weeks ago, they came out and just laid down on the pitch and let Roma have their way with them 4-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. Last week, they punished Udinese 3-0 at the Artemio Franchi. So which Fiorentina will show up? The much maligned Paulo Sousa, who has lost the faith of the Fiorentina faithful, will certainly be under scrutiny when the team faces Milan.
|He has to be thinking three points for another week of job security|
For their win vs. Udinese, Sousa lined up Tatarusanu; Rodriguez, Astori, Tomovic, Badelj, Vecino, Milic, Chiesa, Babacar, Bernardeschi, and Valero. Saponara was actually subbed on in that match in his debut for Fiorentina, too. (Just in case you were having a good day and need something to depress you.) However, in addition to the injured Dragowski, Sousa will be missing Bernardeschi to suspension due to card accumulation.
Montella has been under the scrutiny of the media as rumors of tension between he and Berlusconi surfaced this past week. Why do people do that? I mean, they are reporting that the tension has been there since the Super Coppa win, but wait until after the epic and outnumbered win vs. Bologna, then a very brave point earned away vs. Lazio on Sunday. With the massive injuries and everything else, now they release this nonsense? Besides, if the reports are to be believed, the sale of the club is looking to close on schedule, meaning that Berlusconi should have little to no power to sack a coach who doesn’t play two strikers or whatever lunacy he envisions anymore. And what is the deal with the crazy owners who ignore the performances or even the results and say or do really stupid stuff? (I’m looking at you, too, De Laurentis.)
|Montella demonstrating the gap between Fiorentina's midfield and ours|
So the plague of injuries impacting our starting eleven and then some is still significant. Montella will be without Calabria, Romagnoli, Antonelli, De Sciglio, Bonaventura, and Montolivo. Good for Montolivo, Fiorentina fans might be shocked at the difference in his form now anyway. And not just his Twitter form. However, Kucka and Paletta will be returning from suspension, so I hope Fiorentina bring all of their medical staff with. I also hope Montella plays at least one striker on Sunday, because his experiment vs. Lazio was not pretty. As we talked about on the last podcast, he may need to change his system a bit to get the results we desperately need.
This game is a really important one for both clubs and for their seasons. Normally, playing at home and not having a midweek game would give Milan an advantage. But our injuries nullify any advantage that way. We are going to need all of the grinta we can find. Fiorentina will come in a little tired, and also traveling. But their inconsistency in form will be traveling with them. And so it will depend on which team gets off the team bus at San Siro. But both teams will be desperate psychologically to get all three points, especially after the draw last time. Plus, one point. In short, both teams will have a point to prove.
This post inspired by the music of Patrick Stump’s “Who’s the Batman” from the Lego Batman Movie soundtrack
Milan vs. Fiorentina
Sunday, February 19 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST
This match will be shown on RAI in the U.S.