The most high-profile game on the opening weekend in Serie A takes place on Sunday night at the StadioArtemioFranchi as SinišaMihajlović brings his expensive new look Milan side to Tuscany to face Fiorentina.
Montella out Sousa in
The Vincenzo Montella era came to a conclusion at Fiorentina shortly after the end of the previous campaign – a difference of opinion with the clubs owners meant there was only ever going to be one outcome and the former Sampdoria and Roma striker gathered his personal belongings and left the club. His successor is the former stylish Portuguese defensive midfielder Paulo Sousa who just like his predecessor, combines good looks with a calm work ethic. The 44-year-old has not been given mountains of cash to spend on new players as the club does not have the backing of a rich benefactor like Sunday night’s opponents.
The pick of the summer signings are 27-year-old Croatian striker Nikola Kalinić, who arrives from Dnipro and Italian international defender DavideAstori who, after protracted negotiations final joined from Cagliari. Pre-season has been excellent for the Tuscan’s, striker Giuseppe Rossi, after almost two years out of the game thanks to a series of debilitating injuries, is slowly getting back into the groove and promising young frontman Federico Bernardeschi has been elevated to a first-choice pick now that big German striker Mario Gomez has left for Besiktas. Will Fiorentina come out on top? Check what our football betting experts think.
Mihajlović must deliver immediately for Mr Bee
Having taken control of 48% of the club, Thai billionaire businessman Bee Taechaubol will want an immediate dividend on his investment – in other words, Milan must get back to the Champions League in 2016. He’s put his money where his mouth is however, giving new coach SinišaMihajlović the financial muscle to attract top talent. The former Inter player has done exactly that, bringing in Colombian striker Carlos Bacca from Sevilla and Brazilian frontman Luiz Adriano from Shakhtar Donetsk. He’s also re-united himself with young Italian defender AlessioRomagnoli who despite being owned by Roma, was on loan with the Serbian at Sampdoria last season. Another Roma outcast, midfielder Andrea Bertolacci, has also joined after a spending three years out on loan at Genoa. So far during the summer transfer window, Mihajlović has spent over €80 million acquiring new talent to try to get the 18 time Serie A champions back amongst Europe’s elite.
Defender FacundoRoncaglia (suspension) and midfielder Marko Bakić (Injury) are Sousa’s only missing personnel ahead of Sunday night’s opener. Astori should make his ArtemioFranchi debut in the centre of defence whilst the ever improving Rossi will almost certainly start on the bench. The Portuguese tactician’s main selection headache looks to be who to play as the lone striker in his 4-2-3-1 system. New signing Kalinić will naturally be anxious to start but if pre-season can be used as a barometer, then Senegalese marksman KhoumaBabacar could get the green light.
Milan look set to line-up in a 4-3-1-2 formation with Japanese playmaker Keisuke Honda playing just behind the new strike pairing of Bacca and Luiz Adriano. Mihajlović looks like he will go for youth over experience in the centre of his defence with the 20-year-old Romagnoli partnering 21-year-old Roberto Ely. Goalkeeper Michael Agazzi, defender Davide Calabria, midfielder Jeremy Ménez and striker M’BayeNiang are all unavailable due to injury. Will our football tipsters predict an opening day win for Milan?
Probable Starting Line-ups
Fiorentina(4-2-3-1) Tatarusanu; Alonso, Astori, Rodriguez, Tomovic; Mario Suárez, Borja Valero; Iličić, Fernández, Bernardeschi; Babacar
Milan (4-3-1-2) Diego Lopez; Antonelli, Romagnoli, Ely, De Sciglio; Bertolacci, De Jong, Bonaventura; Honda; Bacca, Luiz Adriano
Head to Head
Fiorentina won the corresponding fixture last season but overall, Sunday’s visitors have an excellent recent record in Florence having won five out of their last eight trips to Tuscany. Mihajlović was also out of luck last season when his Sampdoria side were beaten 2-0 at the ArtemioFranchi in April of this year.
Fiorentina 2.13 Draw 3.40 Milan 3.50
(courtesy of Bet365)
By Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)