After a weekend off for the national break, the championship resumes and Stefano Pioli's AC Milan return to the pitch. The match is an important one, a tough game against Fiorentina is in store and a chance to continue building on the best start in the Rossoneri's history in Serie A. Take a look at the challenge to come at the Franchi with our Match Preview.
LATEST FROM MILANELLO
Looking strong at the top of the table - alongside Napoli - and with 32 points from 12 games, AC Milan will also be able to count on the returning Júnior Messias, having got back to full fitness during a break which also left Calabria, Rebić and Tomori injured. Their absences add to the list featuring Castillejo and Maignan: as for the rest, Coach Pioli will be able to rely on the whole squad for a match that kicks off a tough run of games between now and the Christmas break.
This was the coach's take on tomorrow's match in his press conference: "Fiorentina are a strong team, they attack with intensity and together as a unit. I'm always wary of teams that appear to be weakened because of injury troubles. It's happened to us in the past, and we've always found the energy and desire to overcome it. The team is in good shape, we have some important matches coming up which must be approached in the right way".
THE LATEST FROM FLORENCE
The Viola awaiting AC Milan this evening will have to deal with a predicament in defence: the two starters Milenković and Martínez Quarta are out of action due to bans, and an alternative like Nastasić sidelined with injury. As for the rest, everyone is available for Italiano, who will most likely opt for his usual 4-3-3: Terracciano or the returning Drągowski between the posts; Biraghi and Odriozola to act as full-backs with Venuti and Igor the possible centre-back pairing; the midfield will likely comprise Castrovilli, Torreira and Bonaventura, formerly one of our own; ahead of them, it is between Saponara, Sottil and Callejón to operate behind the only striker Dušan Vlahović.
"AC Milan are a team that have not lost yet and are playing excellent football," Vincenzo Italiano told the press conference. "You get a sense of this by just looking at the league table. Tomorrow my boys will try to shut down the Rossoneri's gameplan and stamp our own identity onto the game".
Fiorentina v AC Milan is a match with a great tradition in Serie A: although the overall record favours the Rossoneri (74 wins to 44), the matches in Florence have more often gone the Viola's way (31 wins to 26). Under the leadership of Vincenzo Italiano, who arrived in Tuscany after spectacularly saving Spezia from relegation, Fiorentina has had a great start to the season so far, with 18 points in 12 games that leaves them in 7th place, tied with Juventus and Bologna. A very different team, in terms of both their spirit and standing when compared to the team which the Rossoneri came up against at the Franchi last season on the 21 March. That afternoon ended with a 3-2 victory for AC Milan, which was a very crucial win for the Rossoneri in the race for a Champions League spot.
THE LATEST FROM SERIE A
Tonight's Fiorentina v AC Milan match will be refereed by 40-year-old Marco Guida from Torre Annunziata, who also refereed Pioli's team on the first day of the season (Sampdoria v AC Milan 0-1 on 23 August). The Rossoneri have had 28 previous encounters with Guida: 13 wins, 8 draws and 7 defeats. He will be assisted by linesmen Tolfo and Vono as well as fourth official Piccinini; Massa will be on VAR, assisted by Ranghetti.
Matchday 13 will begin this afternoon with Atalanta v Spezia at 15:00 (CET) this afternoon, in an afternoon which, in addition to the match at the Franchi, will also see Lazio take on Juventus at 18:00 (CET). Sassuolo v Udinese at 12:30 (CET) will open tomorrow's schedule, which also includes Bologna v Venezia (15:00 CET), Salernitana v Sampdoria (3pm), Inter v Napoli (18:00 ) and Genoa v Roma (20:45 CET). There are also two postponed matches on Monday: Verona v Empoli (18:30 CET) and Torino v Udinese (20:45 CET).
Here are the current Serie A standings: Napoli, AC Milan 32; Inter 25; Atalanta 22; Lazio 21; Roma 19; Fiorentina, Juventus, Bologna 18; Hellas Verona, Empoli 16; Torino, Sassuolo, Udinese 14; Venezia 12; Spezia 11; Genoa, Sampdoria 9; Salernitana 7; Cagliari 6.
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