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Match Preview: Milan face difficult Fiorentina challenge

With Fiorentina's visit to the San Siro this Sunday, Milan have a chance to atone for their embarrassing loss to them on the opening day of the season.

Niang and Bonaventura could be the ones to make the difference against Fiorentina
Niang and Bonaventura could be the ones to make the difference against Fiorentina
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Having now reached the exact mid point of the Serie A season, it's safe to say that Milan are well short of where Milanisti had hoped they would be in the table at this stage in the year. When Milan played Fiorentina away at the Artemio Franchi in August, Paulo Sousa's team laid bear all of Milan's shortcomings without even breaking a sweat. That opening game set the tone for the stellar season the Viola are having, but also unfortunately for the regrettable one that Milan are having.

Bearing this in mind, a re-match at the San Siro is just about the last thing Milan need at this point. The deficiencies that hampered Milan on that occasion continue to manifest themselves every time the Rossoneri step out onto the field. Despite beating Carpi in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday, it was a discouraging display that demonstrated how even the weakest of opposition can overcome this Milan side. Fiorentina have arguably been the surprise package of the season, having continued to improve even following the departure of manager Vincenzo Montella.

Thankfully, as things stand this is a good time to face Fiorentina, having suffered  an emphatic 3-1 loss to 9th placed Lazio, who Milan beat by the same scoreline in November. Stefano Pioli's side led down a blueprint for how to beat this Fiorentina side that hogs the ball to such an extent. Only the best sides in the league, such as Juventus as Napoli have been able to beat Fiorentina at their own game and Milan will have to be disciplined, cunning and determined in order to get the better of them.

One of Milan's weaknesses under Mihajlovic has been to show a lack of respect to strong sides and they're own naivety has often cost them points on its own. Whilst it's entirely possible that Silvio Berlusconi has played a part in this, Milan will have to sit back and frustrate Fiorentina and use their wits to get the better of them. Whether Milan are capable of this however, is doubtful.

With Luiz Adriano set to depart Milan before the end of the January, Mario Balotelli's return from injury will be welcomed by Milanisti with the mercurial forward performing well prior to his injury lay-off. Luca Antonelli could be also be in line for his first Serie A start since returning from injury himself. Otherwise it is unlikely that Mihajlovic will make any major changes to the team, fielding a 4-4-2 with all the regular starters.

Fiorentina will follow suit with their own formula, opting for a 3-4-2-1. Fortunately for Milan however, they are without captain Gonzalo Rodriguez, as well as Milan Badelj in the midfield. As the man who links the midfield and attack, Josip Ilicic is the man that Milan must nullify. His and Nikola Kalinic's ability to get in behind must be taken into account as well considering that the likes of Alessio Romagnoli and Alex aren't the quickest. Despite success in the Coppa Italia, Milan must use this opportunity to get their league campaign back on track too.

Predicted Line-Ups

Milan: 4-4-2 - Gianluigi Donnarumma; Mattia De SciglioCristian Zapata, Alessio Romagnoli, Luca Antonelli; Keisuke Honda, Juraj Kucka, Andrea Bertolacci, Giacomo BonaventuraM'Baye Niang, Carlos Bacca

Fiorentina: 3-4-2-1 - Ciprian Tatarusanu; Facundo RoncagliaNenad Tomovic, Davide AstoriJakub BlaszczykowskiMatias Vecino, Borja Valero, Marcos AlonsoFederico Bernadeschi, Josip Ilicic; Nikola Kalinic

Score Prediction

The pace and movement of Bacca and Niang on the counter attack will be crucial if Milan are to get a result against Fiorentina. Bonaventura will be one to watch too, as his ability to supply them will undoubtedly make life difficult for the Tuscans. It may seem optimistic, but play it right and Milan can defeat them.

Milan 1-0 Fiorentina