Serie A Round 9: Milan – Fiorentina Preview and Lineups

A Zlatan Ibrahimovic-less Milan will defend his top spot against a Fiorentina side that did not show tangible improvements in the first game after Cesare Prandelli’s return.

Milan – Fiorentina

Serie A Round 9
Sunday, 29 november 2020
Kick-off at 15:00 (CET)
Stadio San Siro (Milano)

Recent Form – Milan

Milan lead Serie A with 20 points after eight rounds and are coming off arguably their best display of the season against Napoli, where they produced a wire-to-wire victory (1-3). Only Roma and Verona have managed to slow them down, holding them to high-scoring draws at San Siro. The ties have all arrived in the past four matchdays, where their form dipped a little even though they remained pretty successful.

The Rossoneri have been defeated just once in the season, by Lille, and tied in the midweek re-match with the French team in Europa League. They have been able to take advantage of easier matches, having bested Bologna, Spezia and Crotone with ease, while they had to dig deeper to defeat Udinese recently. They also come out on top in the Derby with Inter. They have conceded the second least goals (8), trailing only Juventus, and have hit the net 19 teams, one fewer than the League-leading Sassuolo and Inter, thus displaying impressive completeness.

Team News and Predicted Lineups – Milan

The Rossoneri will not be able to rely on their star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has carried them so far but suffered a thigh injury against Napoli. Rafael Leao is unlikely to play because of a similar problem. Ante Rebic, who has provided assists in the past two matches, moved to the center-forward spot once the Swedish ace subbed off, with Jens-Petter Hauge manning the left offensive flank. Brahim Diaz could also be an option for that position as well, as the Norweigian prospect did not shine in Europa League.

Coach Stefano Pioli, who currently has COVID but might be cleared by Sunday like his lead assistant Giacomo Murelli, has been very consistent with his selections, making adjustments only in case of injuries. Alessio Romagnoli is dealing with a sore calf and did not play versus Lille, but he should be able to feature over the weekend. Ismael Bennacer and Samu Castillejo have been ruled out late, the former for muscle fatigue, the latter with knee soreness, therefore Alexis Saelemakers, who is back from an ankle injury, will get the start.

Expected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessié, Tonali; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Hauge; Rebic

Unavailable: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (thigh injury), Rafael Leao (thigh injury), Samu Castillejo (knee soreness), Ismael Bennacer (muscle fatigue).

Recent Form – Fiorentina

Cesare Prandelli could not get off on the right foot in his return after 11 years, as the Viola were nipped by Benevento at home and did not show signs of progress compared to the Giuseppe Iachini era. They sit in 15th position with eight points, three more of the 18th-placed Torino. They have prevailed just twice in the season, against Torino and Udinese at home. They have been toppled by Inter, Sampdoria and Roma and have equalized with Spezia and Parma.

They have been hurt by the fact that neither among their three young strikers (Dusan Vlahovic, Patrick Cutrone and Christian Kouamé) has been able to score consistently so far and also the back-line as not been as stingy in the past. Gaetano Castrovilli (four goals) has been one of their few bright spots, but he too has not been super consistent. They have hit the net just ten times (tied for 15th in Serie A) and have surrendered 13 goals, which is middle of the pack. They also rank 15th for shots taken.

Team News and Predicted Lineups – Fiorentina

There is a decent amount of uncertainty regarding their lineup both as the new manager is open to adopting new schemes and because of some injury concerns related to potential starters. Frank Ribery bowed out of the last game with an apparent thigh injury and sat out the midweek Coppa Italia tilt, Giacomo Bonaventura was a late scratch because of an ankle sprain, but they were both able to practice fully in the last couple of days and should be good to go. José Callejon will also be available after shaking off Coronavirus, but he was not his great form even before the contracting the virus as he missed the pre-season preparation.

Prandelli utilized 4-2-3-1 in his debut, but the rumours suggest he might move to tactic based on a three-man midfield formed by Sofyan Amrabat, Erick Pulgar and Castrovilli, as it happened midweek in Coppa Itlaia, while Alfred Duncan got the start last week. Dusan Vlahovic is expected to spearhead the front-line and will reportedly be supported by two among Ribery, Bonaventura and Callejon, depending on who is in better shape. Christian Kouamé played as winger against Benevento, but he did not have a good performance. Patrick Cutrone is making a late push after being left in the background to open the season.

While Nikola Milenkovic manned the flank in the previous round, as he has done when he was younger, with Igor joining German Pezzella in the middle, Martin Caceres and Pol Lirola are more likely choices at right-back for this upcoming tilt. Lirola had a good cameo versus the Sanniti, while Cristiano Biraghi struggled as left-back after shining as wing-back in 3-5-2.

Expected Starting XI (4-3-2-1): Dragowski; Caceres, Milenkovic, Pezzella, Biraghi; Amrabat, Pulgar, Castrovilli; Bonaventura, Ribery; Vlahovic

Unavailable: Venuti (thigh injury)

Milan vs Fiorentina – Previous Meetings

The two sides have faced each other 160 times in Serie A, with 72 wins for the Diavoli, 44 ties and 44 victories for the Gigliati. However, the recent results have been mixed, as Fiorentina have surprisingly plundered San Siro the last two times they visited. There have been three ties, four Milan wins and three Viola ones in the last ten tilts.


Despite the massive absence of Ibrahimovic, Milan likely have the resources to make do in a feasible match-up while the road team is looking for its identity, on top of some acceptable results, under the new regime.