Milan vs. Fiorentina, Preview: Milan in unfamiliar position as they face the Viola

Dino Panato

Milan - Fiorentina has to compete with the Derby della Capitale for attention. But there are more than a few reasons to pay attention to this tie.

If you're choosing to forgo the brutality -- I mean, er, passion -- that is the Rome Derby, the match between Milan and Fiorentina is what you should be watching on Sunday. The Viola beat Cagliari 4-1 last weekend, extending their unbeaten run to five matches. Milan produced an even greater victory, managing a 5-1 win over Chievo. It's been a long time since the rossoneri were the underdogs in this tie, but despite the impressive win last weekend, the balance still tips in Fiorentina's favor.

Since the 3-2 defeat at Lazio, Massimilano Allegri has done well to hang on to his job, beating Genoa and drawing with Palermo. But even the impressive victory at Chievo can't make up for the fact that his side is in 10th place in Serie A. Milan did well to come back against Palermo, but they should have never been down two goals to the worst side in Serie A, nor should they have struggled to beat Genoa. Not all the fault rests with Allegri, but he still needs to make a clear statement that the club is capable of challenging for a Champions League position.

A win over the high-flying Viola would be just the ticket. Vincenzo Montella has created an almost entirely new squad from the wreckage he inherited, and Fiorentina are poised to leapfrog Napoli into third place. They'll suffer from the loss of Stevan Jovetic this weekend, but although the forward is responsible for six goals thus far this season, Montella's side can still function without him. During the Montenegrin's goal droughts (three matches = drought), veteran Luca Toni has stepped in, as have Romulo and Adem Ljajic.

Of course, it's always fun to watch Montella's sides in free flow attack, but what gets overlooked is how he's managing to do what he couldn't at Catania: stop the opposition goals from landing in the back of the net. The Viola have conceded just eight goals thus far, on par with Juventus. Fiorentina may have let go of Matija Nastasić this summer, but fellow Serb Nenad Tomović has done more than enough to compensate in Montella's back three.

Fortunately for the rossoneri, Stephan El Shaarawy, this season's top scorer, is at full fitness, having had a rest after been substituted in midweek play. It was Alexandre Pato -- remember him? -- that had to take on the goal-scoring reigns against Málaga. Finally back from injury, the Duck will be eager to prove himself by scoring his first Serie A goal this season, after being left on the bench during the free-for-all last weekend. Bojan Krkic, too, will look to build upon his goal tally, having scored his first for Milan against Chievo.

AC Milan Injuries and Suspensions

Ignazio Abate (injured); Luca Antonini, Sulley Muntari (in doubt)

Abate came off injured after just five minutes against Málaga. Mattia De Sciglio replaced him at right back and will most likely start in his place.

Fiorentina Injuries and Suspensions

Michele Camporese, Stevan Jovetic (injured)

Do I really need to tell you which of these is more significant? Jojo injured himself against Cagliari and will be out another ten days. Fortunately, while the Montenegrin is best of the Viola side, Montella has managed to produce a team that will be able to cope without him for a couple matches.

Match Date / Time: Sunday, November 11 at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Venue: San Siro, Milan

TV: Sky Calcio 2

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