Fiorentina vs AC Milan, Preview: Champions League contenders collide

Paolo Bruno

Talk about a six pointer. It’s literally win or bust for Fiorentina, with Champions League football next season at stake.

The fourth placed Viola trail Sunday's visitors AC Milan by six points. The Rossoneri are yet to be beaten on the domestic front this calendar year and come into the game on the back of four straight league victories.

A 2-1 reverse against struggling Cagliari last weekend snapped a run of three consecutive victories for the home side, but they have won their last four games at the Artemio Franchi. However, Milan are unbeaten on their last six visits to Florence, picking up two draws and four victories.

Fiorentina hold a 3-1 victory over Milan at the San Siro back in Week 12. Alberto Aquilani played a goalscoring role in that game and is set to face his former club once more. The match will also be a special one for Riccardo Montolivo, who returns to the club he left on a free transfer last summer, after refusing to sign a contract extension. Another former purple player, Giampaolo Pazzini returns to the Milan squad for the first time in a month after being sidelined with a foot injury.

Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri tried to downplay the importance of this game in his pre-match Press conference, as he labelled the game as "not decisive."

He added: "There are still eight games to go, although this is certainly an important match and we need the points to not only secure third place, but also keep up the pressure on Napoli for second."

Milan can report a relatively clean bill of health for the trip, with Massimo Ambrosini the only notable player joining long term injury victim Nigel De Jong on the sidelines.

Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella thought he would be without 12 goal frontman Stevan Jovetic, after the Montenegrin picked up a thigh injury during the Cagliari defeat. The original diagnosis was a two week absence, but Montella revealed during his Press conference that Jovetic is in his squad.

He said: "Stevan told me he's ready to play, but we'll see what sensations we get from his training session. It's great for a coach to see everyone so eager to take part, but we'll run no risks. If he's fit then he'll play, but if not then he won't.

"This game is important for our ambitions and for the entire campaign: we have to win. We are still in the running for Europe and that makes this encounter with Milan crucial, although it's not yet an ‘in or out' match.

Mounir El Hamdaoui, who, like Aquilani also netted in the November victory over Milan, definitely misses out with a thigh injury, while Gonzalo Rodriguez is suspended.

Fiorentina injuries and suspensions

Out: Michele Camporese, Mati Fernandez, Giuseppe Rossi, Mounir El Hamdaoui (injured) Gonzalo Rodriguez (suspended)

AC Milan injuries and suspensions

Out: Massimo Ambrosini, Nigel De Jong (injured)

Match Date/Time: Sunday 7th April 2013 12:30 p.m. local, 6:30 a.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Italy

TV: Premium Calcio, Sky Calcio 1 (Italy), RAI Internazionale (U.S)

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