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Milan-Atalanta Preview: Gasperini’s Boys



Atalanta are an anomaly. They are a club with a pretty small budget, yet have been yielding excellent returns in recent years. With a wage bill of only €27m compared to Milan’s ridiculous €140m, Atalanta have to be taken very seriously. Indeed, they have gone from 13th in 2015-16 to finishing fourth the next year, and then last year in seventh, just behind us. Much of that success has been at the hands of the former coaching merry-go-round mainstay, Gian Piero Gasperini. He found his niche, apparently. So it is with much trepidation that we welcome to the San Siro on Sunday “Gasperini’s Boys.”

He's already a legend in Bergamo

Atalanta is known for developing really good players, too. A number of which are now ours, including Kessie, Conti, Caldara, and Bonaventura. In 2014, Atalanta’s youth system was ranked eighth in the world. In the world. There were 25 ex-Atalanta players playing in Europe’s top 5 leagues. I mean one of those was Montolivo, so that’s not commendable. But most of the rest of them were actually good players. They also attract good players, such as the former loaned-to-Milan player Pasalic, who has been playing very well for his current club.

Atalanta fell short in the Europa League qualifying this year, going out in the playoff round. But that just means they have three rounds in Europe under their belts (home and away,) as well as four matches in Serie A. Their form in Italy is W-D-L-L, with that draw being a very entertaining match against Roma. Stuttering a bit in their last two matches, they will want to make no mistakes when they come to the San Siro.

Teammates then and teammates now, just a different team

Their last match was on Monday vs. SPAL, a 2-0 away loss. For that match, Gasperini lined up the goalkeeper/rapper Gollini (akaGolloriu$); Palomino, Masiello, Toloi, Freuler, deRoon, Gosens, Castagne, Duvan Zapata, Papu Gomez, and Rigoni. He’s got Varnier out to long-term injury, and Papu Gomez suffered a mild injury on Monday and was doubtful. However recent reports indicate that he will be available against Milan.

In contrast, Gattuso’s boys just made their Europa League debut on Thursday. Despite getting the win against the weakest team in our group, the performance was painful to watch. The fact that Gattuso was happy with it makes it all the more terrifying. But perhaps he will go with more than two starters for this match. Strinic is obviously resting and I hope his heart problems are thoroughly monitored and resolved properly, even if I’d love to see him play. Cutrone still has that ankle injury, so will not be available for this match. Which means Higuain will have to find a way to score in spite of his teammates once again.

Our saving grace

People seem to think this will not be a tough match, but I am absolutely terrified. They may have hit a little bump, but Atalanta are due for a big win, and we could easily be their next victims. Maybe we took one too many of their players, I don’t know, but I will not sleep well until this match is finished. Milan need the three points, but more importantly a great performance to be convincing again. But until they give me that, I will be hiding under the bed, shaking, afraid of Gasperini’s Boys.


This post inspired by the music of Danny Elfman’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” Soundtrack


Serie A Week 5
Milan vs. Atalanta
Sunday, September 23 • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT)
This match will be streamed LIVE on ESPN+ in the U.S.