Fiorentina v AC Milan, Serie A, December 19, 2009
Until last weekend AC Milan’s turnaround was going swimmingly.
After a stuttering start to the season under new coach Leonardo which reached it’s pinnacle with the defeat to FC Zurich in the Champions League, the Rossoneri had managed to put together an unbeaten run which had seen them go two months without tasting defeat. But then came the disappointing 2-nil home defeat at the hands of Palermo where a disjointed Milan side were dismantled by the Sicilians.
Once again questions were raised as to whether Milan have a squad capable of claiming the Scudetto this season.
At the back Milan continue to appear lacking, with Alessandro Nesta the aged-stalwart holding the backline together alongside the lesser impressive lights of Ignazio Abate, Luca Antonini and hit-and-miss keeper Dida. Defensively, the continued absences of Massimo Oddo, Gennaro Gattuso, Oguchi Onyewu, Thiago Silva and Daniele Bonera through injuries have naturally weakened Milan’s resources, which has seen Milan claim only six clean sheets in 16 league matches this season.
Happily though, Milan had begun looking formidable in the middle of the park and up-front. Leonadro has managed to find a system that permits Ronaldinho to be effective from a wide let position, while allowing the bucked-toothed wonder to absolve himself of defensive duties. While Dinho offers the create force in the centre of the pitch, the dog’s work is shared out between Massimo Ambrosini and Andrea Pirlo, while the evergreen Clarence Seedorf also acts as a vital link between the midfield and attack.
20-year-old Alexandre Pato, with seven goals in sixteen matches, has stepped up to the plate in recent weeks to lead the Milan attack. Pato’s good goalscoring form has been aided by the development of his partnership with target man Marco Boriello, while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Super Pippo Inzaghi have been reduced to bit-part roles from the bench.
Much like Milan, Fiorentina have found themselves to be hit-and-miss this season as the Viola struggle to find consistency. On the one hand, the Florence outfit sparkled in the Champions League highlighted by their 2-1 win at Anfield. But that is contrasted with a spate of disappointing results including home defeats to Napoli and Parma, while last week’s 2-1 defeat at Chievo saw the Viola drop from fourth to ninth in Serie A.
The latest problem to face Fiorentina arose in the past week, with reports the star striker Adrian Mutu could be on his way out of the Stadio Franchi after the Romanian was allegedly caught up in a brawl at the Four Seasons hotel in Florence. Mutu has made just 13 appearances in all competitions so far this term as he has been hampered by fitness problems and, with his ongoing legal feud with Chelsea, time maybe right for Mutu to move on.
Arguably, Mutu’s absence is being considered because of the array of other talent spread throughout Cesare Prandelli’s squad. Montenegrin ace Stevan Jovetic is one of the hottest properties in European football, while Chilean winger Juan Manuel Vargas has made the left-side of the team his own this season with Real Madrid mooted to be sniffing around the 26-year-old.
The meeting with Milan will be particularly significant for Fiorentina’s main goalscorer, Antonio Gilardinho. Gila, who scored 44 goals for Il Diavolo over the course of three season, will be eager to add to his seven goals claimed this season while putting a dent in his former employer’s title hopes.
With Italy breaking off for their winter recess after this weekend’s round of fixtures, both Fiorentina and Milan will be looking to head into Christmas on a high. A score-draw maybe the most likely outcome, but the visitors will hopes that their recent dominance over Fiorentina (the Rossoneri have lost just once in their last 12 matches against the Viola) may give them the slight edge.
101predicts: Fiorentina 2 – AC Milan 2 (15/1)