Fiorentina-Milan Preview: No Walk in the Garden

There was a time during the season when Milan would have relished a trip to Fiorentina. Milan were winning every match and Fiorentina were losing more games than not. But now Milan barely have a healthy starting 11, having started Castillejo up front in desperation on Thursday against Manchester United. Meanwhile, Prandelli's Fiorentina destroyed Benevento 4-1 on Sunday. This is definitely not the ideal time to travel to the Artemio Franchi. Facing Fiorentina will be no walk in the garden.

Who will score in place of our captain?

Fiorentina sit in 14th place on the table, with seven wins, eight draws, and 12 losses. Prandelli's first match back in charge of the Viola was a 1-0 loss to Pippo's Benevento in November. But things are changing. This past Sunday, Fiorentina thrashed Pippo's side 4-1 with a Vlahovic hat trick in the first half alone. For that matchup, Prandelli lined up the amply bearded Dragoswki; Milenkovic; Pezzella, Martinez Quarta; Caceres, the Jack of our heartbreak Bonaventura, Pulgar, Eysseric, Venuti; Vlahovic, and Ribery. He will be missing Kokorin and Igor to injury when we travel to Tuscany.

Pioli formerly coached Fiorentina, but did not face his former club in our first meeting this season. The Legendary Bonera took charge of that one while Pioli and his doppelganger sidekick Murelli both tested positive for COVID-19. So this one will see two beloved former Fiorentina managers face off. For the players who are still at Fiorentina when Pioli was there, it will be an emotional reunion. Many of them consider him like a father, especially after he guided them through after the tragic loss of Astori, their captain.

Best Left Back of the Year and Jack of our Heartbreak Bonaventura

This time, Pioli will be missing Rebic to suspension and Mandzukic, Romagnoli, Leao, Maldini, and Calabria to injury. The young right back underwent a successful keyhole surgery on his knee yesterday and should be out for about 30 days. Pioli also has a side who are exhausted from playing in the Europa League on Thursday. Ibrahimovic was only fit to play about 25 minutes, and was nowhere near top form. Gigio Donnarumma was awarded Best Goalkeeper of Serie A at the Gran Galá del Calcio awards last night, and Theo Hernandez won Best Left Back in Serie A, too. Hopefully they will be energized by the recognition and not hungover from celebrating their achievements.

Milan do have a few pairs of rested legs who didn't play on Thursday, including Hauge, who was shamefully excluded from the Europa League squad. Bennacer is supposed to be fit, but did not play on Thursday, perhaps he will see some time as well. For the rest of the starters, having left everything on the pitch at the San Siro, it will be interesting to see how much they have been able to recharge in such a short time.

Best Goalkeeper in Serie A takes protecting the ball very seriously

On paper, Milan should still win this match. But paper didn't play 13 Europa League matches on top of 27 Serie A matches and two Coppa Italia matches since September of last year. Neither did Fiorentina, which gives them an advantage. Considering all of Milan's injuries as well, will that give the Viola enough of an edge? Or will Milan's resolve to do well in the league after crashing out of Europe see them fight through injuries and exhaustion? Facing Fiore at this point will be no walk in the garden.

This post inspired by the music of Pearl Jam's "Garden"

Serie A Week 28
Fiorentina vs. Milan
Sunday, March 21 • 18:00 CET (1pm EDT)*
This match can be streamed LIVE on ESPN+
*note the time difference due to American Daylight Savings Time

Fiorentina-Milan Preview: No Walk in the Garden Fiorentina-Milan Preview: No Walk in the Garden Reviewed by Elaine on 11:30 PM Rating: 5
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