It's a time for two sides to prove themselves, and where better to do it than on the San Siro pitch? Fiorentina visit Milan on Saturday, giving plenty of time for the injury-ravaged hosts to put themselves back together before jetting off to Barcelona for Wednesday's match. And at least Massimiliano Allegri knows his job is safe until after the Champions League encounter, because besides Maurizio Zamparini, who's going to fire a coach just before a date like that?
But Mad Max can't be feeling all too comfortable -- he's been walking an extra-fine line recently, a tightrope dangling far above a cavernous pit. The rossoneri may have managed a draw against Barcelona, but followed that up by letting Parma win in injury time and not preventing Lazio from wiggling themselves back into the match with an equalizer. Allegri's team are inept at defending set pieces, a trait that revealed itself in the first match and the coach has failed to rectify. Oh, and Mario Balotelli looked woeful against Lazio midweek.
Milan aren't helped by their injury apocalypse, of course, but it's tough to excuse the team for that considering they're the ones who elected to bargain buy their players. The hosts have just five defenders available this week, with their bench man the 19 year old Jherson Vergara, who's yet to make an appearance for the side. Christian Abbiati was called up, but the keeper is still struggling with injury and will likely remain on the bench.
Fiorentina's injury woes have lessened, but Vincenzo Montella is surely missing having Mario Gómez up top. Sure, Giuseppe Rossi is playing wonderfully, but it's unlikely Joaquín was ever meant to start this regularly, and his age is starting to reveal itself. But he'll have to put in a good shift at Milan. Despite replays showing Gokhan Inler clearly clipped the heels of Juan Cuadrado in Wednesday's match, the viola failed to get Juan Cuadrado's one game suspension lifted. Fortunately, it doesn't take much to terrorize this Milan defense. In fact, Cuadrado most likely would've given them a collective heart attack.
With their loss to Napoli midweek, Fiorentina are out of the European positions, pushed aside by Inter Milan and Hellas Verona. With Inter's inability to impress on the road recently, Fiorentina may be able to take advantage and climb back up should they come away with all three points. And if they play the way they did against Napoli, they should manage to do just that -- should luck be on their side this time, that is. And if an 89th minute penalty doesn't go Milan's way.
Milan injuries and suspensions
Fiorentina injuries and suspensions
Matí Fernández, Gómez, Hegazy, Iličić (injured); Ambrosini (in doubt); Cuadrado (suspended)
AC Milan (4-3-3): Gabriel; Abate, Zaccardo, Zapata, Constant; Montolivo, De Jong, Muntari; Kakà, Balotelli, Robinho
Saturday, November 2 at 8:45 p.m. local, 3:45 p.m. ET
Stadio San Siro, Milan
Sky Calcio 1, Premium Calcio 2, Sky Sport 1 HD Italia (Italy); BT Sport (UK), RAI Internazionale (USA)
beIN Sport Play (USA), bet365