This season has been a fairy tale for the Serie A teams in Lombardy. Milan are in third place, Atalanta in a very unexpected sixth place, and Inter… well two out of three isn’t bad. With nine wins, a draw, and six losses, Gasperini has woven a magic spell that has seen his team play much better than expected. And with a little reverse psychology (“We will play possession football,”) Montella has also gotten better results from Milan. But what will happen with both fairy tale seasons meet?
Ironically, both teams are seeing a bit of reality hit them at the same time. Atalanta’s reality is hitting them in the form of injuries. For our match, they are missing D’Alessandro, Paloschi, Berisha, Cabezas, Konko, and Suagher. And if Paloschi sounds familiar, yes, Inzaghi’s self-appointed heir will not face his former club at the San Siro. For last week’s 3-1 loss to Udinese, Gasperini lined up Sportiello; Caldara, Masiello, Toloi, Gagliardini, Kessie, Spinazzola, Conti, Petagna, Gomez, and Kurtic. And yes, that is also former Milan striker Petagna, who will be fit to face his former club at the San Siro.
Montella’s side may have lost to Roma on Monday, but his injury luck is changing for the good. Both Bacca and Bonaventura returned to training this week, and both are expected to be available for tomorrow’s match. Kucka will also be back from suspension. So actually, it should only be Montolivo and Calabria out, probably the fewest injuries we’ve had all season. Which means Montella’s nightmare this week is choosing from a wealth of players for once. That’s hopefully a very good problem to have.
On paper, Milan have the advantage: home stadium, fewer injuries, placed higher on the table. But Gasperini’s side has been underestimated before this season, to the tune of three points lost to those teams who were not prepared. Certainly Atalanta are dangerous, and Milan will need to play at their best to get a result. It will be very interesting to see what happens when two fairy tales collide.
This post inspired by the music of Inno Milan
A very happy 117th Birthday to AC Milan!
Here’s to more victories, more trophies, and more red and black!
Milan vs. Atalanta
Saturday, December 17 • 18:00 CET (12noon EST)
This match will be shown LIVE on RAI and BeIN Sports in the U.S.