Skip to main content

Milan-Atalanta Preview: Bah Humbug


When I first looked at the Serie A calendar, with the added Christmas fixtures, I was not excited. Not having games around Christmas was a signature of Serie A, and I personally liked it. To play Atalanta on Chrismas Eve Eve was likely going to prove problematic. But now, with where the team are, our new coach, and the enforced and admittedly punitive ritiro this week, it seems like something right out of Ebenezer Scrooge’s playbook. Bah Humbug.

Talk about a Scrooge

Atalanta sit just above us in seventh place on the table on goal differential. Under Gasperini, they have overperformed. Not just last year with the surprised fourth place finish. They went undefeated in their Europa League group stage to qualify at the top of their group. This despite selling their two best players from last season, Kessie and Conti, to us. And now we face them in a very poor moment. Merry Christmas, indeed.

Gasperini’s team beat Sassuolo in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday 2-1. For that match, he lined up Gollini; Toloi, Mancini Bastoni, de Roon, Sastagne, Gosens, Haas, Kurtic, Cornelius, and Orsolini. He rested some players, too, so it’s not as if the entire team will be tired. Also, he seems to be missing only Palomino to injury, so expect a proper battle from the little team that could.

Ex-Atalanta players they don't seem to be missing much

Milan’s headaches are many and large. But for this game specifically, Gattuso will be without Romagnoli and Suso to suspension. That’s in addition to missing Atalanta’s former Conti, who is reportedly recovering well from his surgery. Well and missing Jose Mauri to injury as well. And I hear Calhanoglu is not fit for this game, too.

But the biggest injury is that of having to submit to ritiro this week. Not only did they have to live and train together without seeing their families at this important time of the year, their holiday dinner was cancelled the day of. If that’s not a Scrooge move right there, I don’t know what is. So instead of enjoying camaraderie with their teammates, they were forced into it, stripped of their family time, and for what? They are not the ones with the financial problems. It’s not their fault UEFA didn’t like their FFP plan. The players did not go and buy ten new players and Borini this summer. They didn’t sack Montella and hire Gattuso as a coach. It was a desperate, douchebag move on the part of management. And when you consider that most of the time, a ritiro doesn’t even work, it was another stupid move on the part of management.

The Grinch who stole Christmas dinner

Needless to say, I am not looking forward to this match tomorrow. At least it’s at 9am my time, not 3:30am like last week. But I’m not feeling the Milan spirit, much less the Christmas spirit when I think about this game. My only hope is that the fans will show up in numbers to support, despite the busy Christmas season. But then again, I wouldn’t wish watching this match live on anyone either, because despite the poor prognosis, I am not Ebenezer Scrooge. Bah humbug.


This post inspired by The Muppet Christmas Carol’s “Scrooge”


Serie A Week 18
Milan vs. Atalanta
Saturday, December 23 • 18:00 CET (12noon EST)
This match will be shown LIVE on RAI Italia and beINSports in the U.S.

-->