Trust key trio, last chance for underperforming duo – How Milan should line up vs Fiorentina

Giampaolo AC Milan

Milan host Fiorentina at San Siro on Sunday night as we look to get our season on track after back-to-back defeats in Serie A.

The Rossoneri currently sit in 12th place in the standings having collected just six points from our opening five games, with Thursday’s loss to Torino a hugely disappointing setback.

SEE MORE: Five key talking points as Milan squander lead and fall to disappointing defeat at Torino

Having arguably played our best football of the season thus far in the opening 45 minutes, Milan capitulated in the second half and returned home with nothing to show for their efforts.

With the pressure increasing on Marco Giampaolo and the players, they can’t afford to get this one wrong on Sunday as it could have dire consequences moving forward. That’s not to say that Giampaolo is at immediate risk, but he certainly won’t be easing the pressure building on him without three points.

Keep trio in starting line-up

Theo Hernandez, Ismael Bennacer and Rafael Leao all started in midweek, and Giampaolo has to stick with them as they all bring key qualities to the side.

Hernandez offers energy, tenacity and a genuine attacking threat down the flank and suits Giampaolo’s game well, while Leao provides pace, movement and a different dynamic in the final third to ensure we’re not predictable and give the opposition more to think about off the ball.

As for Bennacer, he showed he adds much more to the team than Lucas Biglia as the game went on in Turin, not only with his defensive work but also with his ability on the ball. From getting out of tight spaces and difficult positions with his quick-thinking and technical quality to playing long-range passes and bursting forward to spark counter-attacks, he showed he should be a regular starter.

There could be a temptation for Giampaolo to drop them after the defeat, but he has to stick with them as they were some of the brightest aspects of our performance.

Time running out for Suso, Calhanoglu to deliver

Admittedly, Hakan Calhanoglu loves playing against Fiorentina as he has bagged three goals and three assists against them in four games, while he did show improvement against Torino.

However, he hasn’t been consistent or decisive enough arguably since he joined us, and certainly not so far this season under Giampaolo.

As for Suso, he remains our creative hub and is always capable of producing a moment of magic. Ultimately though, that isn’t enough. Non-existent with his defensive tracking back on Thursday and largely ineffective with his predictable and slow play on the ball, Milan can’t sit around and rely on him to swing in one decent ball in five which could lead to a goal, or a rocket shot that sees him get on the scoresheet.

There is no doubt that these two have been key figures in the side for a long time now, but they haven’t delivered anywhere near enough back in return to warrant those positions.

The expectation is that Giampaolo will stick with them and perhaps that’s the right call for a game he can’t afford to take what he perceives as risks in. However, with Giacomo Bonaventura and Ante Rebic on the bench while Lucas Paqueta is back in the squad, they surely have to start coming under pressure to keep their places eventually.

It could be argued that they need to know that they aren’t simply guaranteed a place in the starting XI regardless of form. Perhaps time out of the side will even do them some good, and so if they underwhelm again this weekend, Giampaolo has to think about making changes.

Probable XI: Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer, Calhanoglu; Suso, Piatek, Leao. (via Sky Sport Italia and La Gazzetta dello Sport.)