Fiorentina Appears the Biggest Threat to AC Milan Besides Napoli and Juventus

Matteo BonettiContributor ISeptember 10, 2013

MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01:  Mario Balotelli of AC Milan looks on during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Cagliari Calcio at San Siro Stadium on September 1, 2013 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

In the highly competitive Serie A, there are always a half-dozen clubs fighting for Champions League places at the top of the standings.

This season will prove to be no different, as the likes of Fiorentina, Inter, Roma and Lazio will all play their hand for a chance at European glory.

Most notably, Fiorentina provides the most direct threat for Milan at the top of the table. The team is still bitter about last season's last-minute exit from the Champions League at the hands of Milan, who needed a result against bottom-of-the-table Siena to leapfrog the Tuscans for the final spot.

While the Rossoneri are not expected to win the Scudetto, their real battle will be to gain a foothold in second place, which guarantees a group-stage spot in next year's Champions League.

The Viola are even better this season following a breakout year in which the Della Valle brothers brought in promising coach Vincenzo Montella to spearhead a highly offensive system which would capture the eyes of neutrals throughout Europe.

Fiorentina has one of the most technical midfields in the world, with the highly underrated Borja Valero pulling the strings alongside David Pizarro and Alberto Aquilani. But the team will really start to impress in the attacking sector. Mario Gomez was purchased from Bayern Munich with funds from the sale of Stevan Jovetic, becoming one of the most expensive transfer signings in Viola history.

Gomez gives Fiorentina a powerful No. 9 who can really thrive from quality crosses coming in from the likes of Manuel Pasqual, Juan Cuadrado and Joaquin. 

On his flank, Giuseppe Rossi has been scintillating after a two-year hiatus following serious knee injury. The Italian-American scored three goals in his first two Serie A matches, surprising skeptics who wondered if he'd ever come back to full strength. Rossi provides Gomez with a perfect counterpart who is very different tactically and won't get in the way of the big German.

Since Serie A lost its fourth Champions League spot to the Bundesliga after falling short in the controversial coefficient evaluations, the battle at the top has become increasingly harder for the slew of quality teams who think they deserve a chance at European glory.

While Juventus will most likely win the Scudetto, any one of Fiorentina, Milan or Napoli can claim the second spot in the table.

Perhaps these battles are what make Serie A one of the most entertaining leagues to watch worldwide, where parity is rampant and colorful characters are abundant.