Saturday, January 4, 2014

Milan-Atalanta Preview: Reboot or Revert?

It’s a new calendar year, yet not quite halfway through a horrible season for AC Milan. With events, performances, results, and a league standing that many are drinking to forget, the obscure (if not extinct) optimists are anxiously hoping for a change in fortunes with the advent of 2014. But with 13th place Milan welcoming 15th place Atalanta to the San Siro on the Epiphany, will La Befana (the witch who brings Italian children gifts on January 6th) bring Milan good luck? Or will our misfortunes continue into the new year?

Will La Befana favor the Goddess or the Devils?

Atalanta are also known as “La Dea,” or “The Goddess,” and have been playing about as poorly as Milan, but with a squad that costs a fraction of Milan’s and much lower expectations. They are coming off of a 4-1 drubbing by Juventus at home, and so will be motivated to make a better showing, despite the fact that they have not won any of their past five away matches.

During the slaying of The Goddess at the hands of Juventus, the under fire Colantuano lined up Consigli; Stendardo, Migliaccio, Del Grosso, Raimondi; Bonaventura, Carmona, Cigarini; Brivio, Moralez, and Denis. He is missing four defenders, Lucchini, Scaloni, Bellini, and the former Milan stalwart Yepes. Denis is their high scorer so far with 6 goals, and there are four Atalanta players behind him, each with two goals. But have they been good enough for La Befana to bring them a win?

At least my beautiful Yepes didn't go to the other Nerazzurri team

Milan are likely to be still shell-shocked from their last match, ironically also a Nerazzurri encounter and a painful 1-0 loss. However, at least this time, they will have the advantage of playing at home, and the support of the Milan fans… on a Monday afternoon… (not sure how many will actually show up.) Okay, at least on paper, they should have some kind of advantage… I’m not sure anymore what that is.

Rumors are that Adil Rami will get his much anticipated start for Milan, after training with the club since November. And Honda will be in the stands to show his support, having just arrived from Japan. But as for whomever else Allegri will start, I honestly have no idea. After his recent press conference, I honestly don’t know how he will top the delusions, and so I fear for the worst. Certainly we know that Muntari won’t be starting, so that is a bit of a relief. And Birsa and El Shaarawy are still on the injury list, not sure who else has yet to make it back from injury after the holidays.

Will these two continue to spread holiday cheer to Milanisti and punish their former team?

Interestingly, Montolivo, Pazzini, and Coppola have all played for Atalanta, and Yepes has played for Milan. Of those players, however, Montolivo is likely to start, and Pazzini could possibly see some time, but Coppola is unlikely to face his former team, and Yepes will sit this one against his former Milan injured. Which is okay by me, Yepes is a personal favorite, and it might kill me to see him play against us in the Nerazzurri, even if I wish he were healthy.

But ex-clubs or no, the big question on the minds of Milanisti everywhere is when will the real Milan show up? Will the rest of the holiday break have inspired them? Or will it find them rusty and out of form? Will all of the players returning from injury buoy the team up to grab three points against what should be a lesser side? Or will the mentality of the first half of the season continue to weigh down their efforts, performances, and results? If La Befana truly wants to bring gifts to all good little Milanisti worldwide, then I have to believe we can take down at least one Nerazzurri team this season. Because even if I don’t hate them nearly as much as our cugini, at this point, taking three points from any Nerazzurri team is the only gift I want from La Befana this year.

This post inspired by the music of Wolfmother’s “Witchcraft”

Our next match is
Milan vs. Atalanta
Monday, January 6 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)
This match will be broadcast on BeIn Sport and RAI in the US
Check comments for stream links ahead of the game