With both sides changing their coaches and large parts of the squad during close season, it will be very interesting to see how Fiorentina and AC Milan line-up in their opening fixture at Artemio Franchi. There will be plenty of players eager to impress the two managers and we expect to see a highly entertaining encounter.
Still no proven goalscorer in the squad
While some of the other Italian giants would struggle to even make the Serie A top half, Fiorentina have been pretty consistent of late, finishing three straight campaigns in fourth position, but that is little consolation when we know Viola hoped to clinch Champions League qualification in each of those seasons. The team did show occasional glimpses of quality under Vincenzo Montella, but numerous changes to the starting line-up did not exactly help the team gel properly, while injuries to Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi placed the entire attacking burden on talented but inexperienced Khouma Babacar. With the German striker now gone and his Italian counterpart fit but not the player he once was, Fiorentina desperately needed to recruit a world-class striker, and yet they signed Nikola Kalinic, the man who played second fiddle to Yevhen Seleznyov at Dnipro. And even if Viola recorded some quite impressive results in pre-season, playing a competitive match against heavily reinforced AC Milan will be a whole different ball game, and I have doubts as to whether Paulo Sousa’s side can match the Rossoneri on Sunday afternoon.
Defender Facundo Roncaglia misses out through suspension, but he is also on the verge of joining Genoa on another season-long loan.
New-look Milan ready for kick-off
Having clearly made mistakes with Clarence Seedorf and Pippo Inzaghi, AC Milan chiefs opted for a more experienced coach this time out and the one with a proven record in Italy’s top flight. And while Sinisa Mihajlovic is still in the early days of his coaching career, he has proved time and again that he is the real deal. His task at San Siro is by no means easy as the Serbian needs to quickly integrate the likes of Bacca, Adriano, Romagnoli and Bertolacci to the side, while he appears to have reserved a starting berth for Rodrigo Ely as well. The first signs have been more than positive as the Rossoneri looked quite exciting in the Coppa Italia win over Perugia and this new air of confidence is likely to help when they take on Fiorentina side that still have plenty of weak spots. It is games like these that AC Milan will have to win if they want to mount a serious top 3 challenge and I do expect them to outclass Viola at Artemio Franchi in their first game of the new Serie A campaign.
Forwards Jeremy Menez and M’Baye Niang are out injured, while defender Philippe Mexes is doubtful through a knee injury.
Fiorentina do not look ready to hit the ground running just yet and the lack of proven goalscorer is likely to hinder them big time this season. Meanwhile, AC Milan have been showing signs of promise and I can see them winning at Artemio Franchi.
Top pick: AC Milan not to lose 1.83 (5/6) @ Coral
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score 1.76 (3/4) @ 888sport
Alternative pick 2: Away win 3.75 (11/4) @ BetVictor