AC Milan went into this match knowing that Lazio’s win in the early match meant that Rome side had jumped ahead of Milan into the all-important final Champions League spot by a point, meaning that Milan would need at least a draw in order to keep pace. However, another drab performance by Milan would see them drop all three points against a Fiorentina team that hadn’t won a match away from home all season, had finally scored a goal last week after what seemed like forever, and the Viola finally got a win at the San Siro against Milan in five years.
The match started off with both clubs looking rather cautious, especially in the first 20 minutes. The ball barely left the middle third of the pitch, with both teams testing out the other in the first few minutes of the match.
Milan and Fiorentina traded mainly speculative shots in the first half hour, with Hakan Calhanoglu going close a few times and Frederico Chiesa getting a shot from well outside that was easily stopped. Calhanoglu also had a bad turnover that lead to a chance on goal for the Viola (who were playing in mint green), but the result corner was absolutely wasted.
The two best chances in the half both fell to Milan, who started to turn up the pressure and take command of the ball in the last 15 minutes of the match. First, Ricardo Rodriguez had an absolute rocket saved well by Fiorentina’s young French goalkeeper Alban Lafont. Milan would come close again in the 43rd minute as Calhanoglu would have his shot cleared off the line after he’d beaten the goalkeeper. Davide Calabria had done well to retain possession and play in Calhanoglu for his shot.
Half time #MilanFiorentina 0-0, not much happening so far.— The AC Milan-Godfather (@ACMilanSydney) December 22, 2018
Something better needed in the second half.
The first half ended scoreless, with only a couple decent chances for Milan and not much going for Fiorentina. Most neutrals would have been excused for checking out a different match, as the game appeared to be a duel between the Milan forwards and Fiorentina’s Lafont.
53' Suso tries his luck from a tough angle, good save. #MilanFiorentina 0-0.— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) December 22, 2018
Suso had a couple good chances in the 53rd minute, as his shot from a tight angle on the right hand side of the penalty box was saved, and Suso did well to win the ball back, but again, nothing else happened.
Higuain also had a header well-saved by Lafont as Milan started to dial up the pressure. Patrick Cutrone and Diego Laxalt came on in the 67th minute for Jose Mauri and Samu Castillejo. Castillejo had a rough match as he was easily knocked off the ball and seemed to spend as much time lying down in the grass as he did standing up. Mauri had played decently, but it appeared that he had started to wear down from a lack of match fitness.
Disaster struck for Milan, as Chiesa took one of the very few chances that was generated by Fiorentina and put the ball into the back of the net for the visitors. It was certainly against the run of play, and it might have been a tad unlucky for Milan, but if Milan hadn’t been as wasteful with possession, and if Lafont hadn’t been so good, this match would have had a very different feel to it and a good chance converted for Fiorentina wouldn’t have spelled disaster for Milan.
Ricardo Rodriguez had a very good header saved by Lafont in the 84th minute as Milan started to chase the match. Andrea Conti was brought on late in the match, in a straight swap for Ignazio Abate, because of course swapping fullbacks while down a goal late in the match was the obvious move.
Despite some additional pressure, Milan were not able to get a goal. The match had been a fairly physical endeavor, but despite the rough play, Milan should have been able to generate at least a goal at home against Fiorentina, who hadn’t won an away match all season.
Lots of questions will be asked of the team and of the coaching at the team, after Milan got one point from two matches against Bologna and Fiorentina after giving up three goals to Olympiacos in the exit from the Europa League. Make no mistake, this is another disappointing performance, and even if additions are coming in January, Milan will have a hard time retaining any European dream if the team continues to play this poorly.