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Anteprima: The AC Milan Women vs Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia Femminile

Saturday (ahh-ooo)

AC Milan Women v Fiorentina Women - Serie A
Federica Rizza takes on Ilaria Mauro
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

The women of AC Milan will take on Fiorentina in the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia this Saturday. The match will be played at 2:30 p.m. CEST (5:30 am PST / 8:30 am EST).

The winner of this match will advance to play the semifinals against the winner of the game between AS Roma and San Marino Academy.

Here’s an overview of what you need to know before the match.

How We Got Here

Milan vanquished our crosstown rivals Inter Milan by a score of 4-1 in the Round of 16 of the Coppa Italia last December.

Beating your cousins at something is always great, but it’s even better when it gets worldwide attention.

Good Kid, Purple City

Fiorentina has been doing quite well this season. Despite initial losses to both Juventus and Roma, the Viola were able to bounce back and haven’t lost a single match since then.

The last time we met in Serie A was in November. Milan had the misfortune of meeting Fiorentina after their Supercoppa loss to Juventus. Still raw after their defeat, they were angry and decided to take it out on us.

We’ll meet again this Saturday under much different circumstances. Fiorentina has many weapons in their arsenal, but their three biggest threats are Alia Guagni, Tatiana Bonetti, and Ilaria Mauro.

Tatiana Bonetti is currently neck and neck with Juve’s Cristiana Girelli in the race for Serie A capocannoniere this season. She is a formidable forward, whose creativity, passion and intensity are mirrored by her temperament. Expect her to wield all three of those formidable weapons against us.

Ilaria Mauro is one of the country’s strongest forwards. Ilaria combines creativity, strength, along with a good heading ability. She has also made it no secret that she wants to be recalled to the Azzurre, as she has been out of commission for Italy since last summer, after acquiring a back injury. (She’s since fully recovered from the said injury though.) She’ll be looking to be recalled to the national side through her performances, so don’t be surprised if she plays an absolute stormer against us, in order to earn another call-up.

As for Alia Guagni, well what can I say about her that I haven’t said before? If you were to create the composite of the perfect right-back, then the defender would most certainly come out looking like Alia. Alia is a strong, tall, gifted defender, whose combination of speed, strength, ability to read the game, and technical ability, is unrivaled. I would even go as far as to say she’s one of the best right-backs in the world, with only Lucy Bronze and a fully fit Kelley O’Hara being better than she is. She is by far Fiorentina’s best player and was even declared the best player in Italy for two years in a row.

(With this in mind, there’s a reason why I’ve written about her more than I have any other non-Milan, Italian or Serie A player. I must confess that it is because I truly do love her.)

Also, recall that Alia actually scored against us the last time we played against each other.

Expect her to marshal the backline and rally the troops but most of all, expect her and rest of Fiorentina to give us a really hard time.

Alia I love you | (Dominika too!)
LaPresse/Claudio Grassi

Possible Formation and Line-Up

Milan will field a 4-3-2-1 formation again. The formation has been successful so far, as Milan deployed the formation to great effect in their game against Pink Bari.

While Milan won the game by six goals, it is also worth mentioning that they took three goals in return. This was due to a variety of factors, mainly due to a few players being played out of position, as Maurizio Ganz was experimenting with the line-up (with Nora Heroum, in particular, fielded as a fullback for that game).

Since then, Ganz has returned the players to their original positions. The fullback position on the left is the sole domain of Linda Tucceri Cimini, and she will definitely start there this Saturday. The right-back position for Milan has been less stable this season, due to Federica Rizza being injured. As a result of this, there’s been a rotation in that position between Valentina Bergamaschi and Francesca Vitale. There’s little chance of Francesca being deployed in that position for this game, however, due to the fact that starting centre-back Laura Fusetti will be suspended for this match after she acquired a red card in the game against Inter. Instead, Francesca will most likely be deployed as a centrale.

It was the position she initially played in before she was converted to the role of right-back. We’ve only seen her deployed as a centre-back twice this season, and she stepped up to the occasion in both matches.

She was brilliant in the game against Orobica and a true force at the back against Bari (the three goals conceded aside).

She’ll need to step it up in a big way again if Milan are to advance to the semifinals. And given her penchant for clutch plays at the last minute, she just might do so here.

Deborah Salvatori Rinaldi is also tipped for a potential starting-berth. After being sidelined for nearly six weeks, Deborah is finally fit and ready to play, evident by her substitution into the last game against Inter. It should also be noted that Deborah is l’ex della Fiorentina, as she played for them for two seasons, before making the switch to crosstown rivals Florentia in 2018.

That should make her potential start against her former team quite interesting (if not a potentially acrid affair). Ganz is said to be debating between her and new girl Pamela Begič for a starting-berth, so we’ll see if she does start this weekend

Furthermore, Ganz will give Berglind Björg Thorvaldsdottir a rest and start Miriam Longo in her place. Thor has, unfortunately, been struck with a fever (as has the previously mentioned Nora Heroum). The hope is that by starting Miriam in her place, Milan will be able to replicate the success they had against Inter in the competition, chiefly when Longo, who you might recall, scored less than 19 seconds into the match.

Whether or not this will be successful, will be known this Saturday.

Other Things of Note

The FIGC allowed the venues for the fixture to be reversed. Prior to this, it was Fiorentina who would host the first game while Milan would see out the final game of the tie at home.

However, the FIGC rules state that the team with the best head-to-head record will be allowed to make this change in their favor.

Meaning? Fiorentina will get to play the final game at home, thus giving them a slight advantage in the fixture.

(So much for the rest of Serie A Femminile’s ongoing conspiracy theory that Milan tends to get favorable treatment, huh?)

What To Expect

Expect Milan to play their usual game, which is utilizing their dynamism in attack and combining it with their strength at the back.

The 4-3-2-1, however, lacks the natural width that Milan are used to playing with, so expect them to play more narrowly and centrally.

There is also the question of chemistry, particularly at the back, as this will be the first time that Francesca Vitale and Stine Hovland will play together as centre-backs. Although Francesca is used to this type of scenario due to the positions she’s been fielded in this season, the real test will be to see how Stine handles this potential change in the line-up.

Only adding to this will be Nora Heroum’s absence, as the lack of her strong and stable presence in the midfield will surely be felt.

However, the 4-3-2-1 formation might be able to help the team in the wake of all of these absences. The formation allows for defensive solidity in the middle of the park, while also allowing for slight changes in the positioning of the attacking midfielders. That can give the team good coverage in wide areas if need be. The formation is also great for counter-pressing, as the narrowness of it creates small distances between the players. All of these things could be beneficial to Milan in the wake of not being able to field so many of their starters, as they’ll most definitely need to use all of these elements to their advantage if they are to stop Fiorentina’s attack.

Keep in mind that this will only be Milan’s fourth game utilizing this formation, so it will be interesting to monitor their progress as they continue to adjust to this, in addition to the improvisations at the back.

Fiorentina will also have the benefit of having a full-strength squad, while Milan will be dealing with many key absences. There are no excuses however, as Rossonere will need to rise to the occasion and meet whatever challenges come their way head-on.

Either way, let’s hope for a good match this Saturday and for a good result as well.

Finalmente

When: Saturday, February 08, at 2:30 p.m. CEST

Where: Stadio Brianteo in Monza, Italy

How To Watch: TimVision, Viola TV, Fiorentina’s Facebook, and the official Dailymotion page the day after.

AC Milan Women v Fiorentina Women - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images