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Mar 21, 2021 at 5pm UK
AC MilanAC Milan
Pulgar (17'), Ribery (51')
Prandelli (65'), Kouame (89')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Ibrahimovic (9'), Diaz (57'), Calhanoglu (72')
Calhanoglu (41'), Dalot (47'), Meite (90+2')

Preview: Fiorentina vs. AC Milan - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Fiorentina vs. AC Milan - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Serie A clash between Fiorentina and AC Milan, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Still in with a shot at their first Scudetto in a decade, AC Milan seek to put their European disappointment of midweek behind them, as they travel to face Fiorentina on Sunday evening.

With the previously off-colour Viola bursting into bloom in a 4-1 destruction of fellow strugglers Benevento last time out, the Rossoneri will be hoping to quell the hosts' recent goalscoring feats and post a first win in four.

Match preview

Despite the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the second half at his former home of Old Trafford, a luckless Milan could not find a way past Dean Henderson and the Manchester United defence on Thursday, as the Paul Pogba-inspired English side progressed to the quarter-finals of the Europa League at their fellow Red Devils' expense.

With the Diavolo now in jeopardy of seeing all their hard yards since the summer come to nothing at home and abroad, experienced coach Stefano Pioli will need to galvanise his relatively young squad for one last push at Serie A success, before bitter rivals Inter disappear over the horizon. With no further distractions from cup competitions, they will at least be able to focus entirely on the league.

As in Europe, several absences undermined Milan's hopes against Napoli last weekend, as they went down 1-0 to Matteo Politano's second-half strike at San Siro - the latest in a worrying streak of home reverses since January.

Such form has seen them drift nine points behind Inter heading into the weekend's action, with Juventus closing to within just one point and still holding a game in hand.

Fortunately for Pioli, his side can still rely on their formidable record on the road this term, as his are the team that have earned the most points away from home, with 34. Winning 11 of their 13 games as the away side to date, they travel to Tuscany this week in expectation of a maximum points haul, but must overcome a recent trend which has seen them struggle in the final third.

After having registered in 38 consecutive league games, Milan have failed to score in four of their last nine - losing each of those matches when they could not find the net - as Ibrahimovic has been stricken by injuries and some of his younger attacking colleagues have lacked the Swedish star's clinical edge.

Heavily criticised for his style of play and mediocre results since taking the reins again at Stadio Artemio Franchi, embattled Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli was surely relieved when young Serb striker Dusan Vlahovic continued his hot streak in front of goal last time out.

Virtually deciding the destiny of the points against Benevento last Saturday with his first-half hat-trick, Vlahovic has now recorded 12 goals in a troubled season for his club, with most coming in the course of the past two months. In fact, the Belgrade-born striker is only one goal away from becoming the highest Serbian scorer in a single Serie A campaign, as he has already equalled Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's tally from 2017-18.

That win in Campania was only the Viola's second of an abject season on the road, while their tally of home points has been significantly more impressive and actually sees them currently in the top half of the standings in that category.

Ahead of the Rossoneri's arrival in Florence, Prandelli has, though, lost each of his last seven matches against Milan in the league - with his teams failing to score in six of those seven games. Furthermore, Fiorentina last won at home against their Milanese counterparts back in August 2015, so may still feel a hint of trepidation - even if Stefano Pioli's under-strength squad are reeling from recent events.

Fiorentina Serie A form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W

AC Milan Serie A form:
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L

AC Milan form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • L

Team News

Milan's debilitating injury crisis shows no sign of abating, as Rafael Leao suffered a thigh strain on Thursday, while club captain Alessio Romagnoli is still nursing a calf problem and full-back Davide Calabria is set to undergo surgery for a torn meniscus.

January signing Mario Mandzukic (thigh) remains short of fitness and Ante Rebic is suspended after his red card in the dying minutes versus Napoli, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to return from the start, in time to replace Leao up front. Meanwhile, the much-missed Ismael Bennacer has finally recovered from his thigh strain and could make the bench.

Fikayo Tomori will start alongside Simon Kjaer in central defence, given Romagnoli's absence, while either Diogo Dalot or Pierre Kalulu can fill in for Calabria on the right. On-loan Real Madrid starlet Brahim Diaz may come in for recent regular Rade Krunic.

The hosts have most of their squad in good health ahead of Sunday's clash, though Sofyan Amrabat has not fully recovered from a back injury and Russian striker Aleksandr Kokorin has a thigh strain, which rules him out.

Wing-back Cristiano Biraghi is expected to return from a minor foot problem and will contend with Lorenzo Venuti for a spot on the left of Fiorentina's customary 3-5-2. Due to Amrabat's probable exclusion, Valentin Eysseric - scorer of the fourth and final goal in Benevento - could continue in midfield, behind the established front pairing of Dusan Vlahovic and Franck Ribery.

Fiorentina possible starting lineup:
Dragowski; Milenkovic, Pezzella, Martinez Quarta; Caceres, Castrovilli, Pulgar, Bonaventura, Venuti; Ribery, Vlahovic

AC Milan possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Dalot, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Diaz; Ibrahimovic

We say: Fiorentina 1-1 AC Milan

A relatively solid home record and the goal threat of Dusan Vlahovic could prove just enough to eke a point out of this challenging encounter for Fiorentina - particularly given the visitors' recent workload and stalling form.

Though glad to have top-scoring talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic back leading the line, several other absences and the inevitable feeling that hopes of silverware are slipping away from them might well see Milan's spell in choppy waters continue at the Franchi.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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