Atalanta-Milan Preview: Showdown

A game is truly only worth three points, but some games feel like they are worth six. Although they actually only separate the two teams by three points, a win gives that team three points and also denies the other team three points. Again, mathematically, it’s only three points. But schematically, when a team is only one point behind you and breathing down your neck for a Champions League spot, a victory feels like double. And away to Atalanta, victory truly would be a special kind of win, whereas a loss would feel twice as bad. That’s why tomorrow’s match is a showdown.

There's a new sheriff in town

Atalanta have been increasingly consistent and successful in recent years despite being a “smaller” team. Oh, and they’ve produced some massive talents, too. They used to produce “talent” like Montolivo. But more recently, they’ve produced players such as our own Caldara, Kessie and Conti, players you’d actually like to have in your squad. Then there is Gasperini, a wise tactician who has done his time circulating a manager of some of the lower Serie A sides, including a very short stint at the lowest side, Inter, following Leonardo’s exit. However, he has been amazing at Atalanta, producing impressive results and great football.

Atalanta currently sit in a three-way tie for fifth, a mere point behind Milan but with a much better goal differential. They have won their last three matches, including the Coppa Italia match that took out Juventus. For that alone, they are formidable, as no one else has scored three unanswered goals against Juventus for a very long time. Their most recent victory was over the mighty SPAL, a 2-1 win on Sunday. Our former young talent Petagna actually opened the scoring for SPAL in that match, only to be defeated by goals by veteran Ilicic and the Other Zapata. For that match, Gasperini lined up Berisha; Toloi, Palomino, Mancini; Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Castagne; Gomez, Ilicic, and the Other Zapata. Our former summer romance, Pasalic was also subbed on in that game. It appears that Gasperini has pretty much a full squad to choose from for this home match, too.

The Other Zapata, Gomez, and De Roon - none of those names you want to see on the scoresheet

Gattuso has the fortune of having nearly everyone back from injury. Biglia is in the squad again for this one. Caldara was back in full training this week, but likely won’t be called up until the Sassuolo match next month. Bonaventura is obviously still out for the season, and our defender Zapata and Reina are both sidelined short-term with injuries right now. Abate had a virus, but was still called up to travel with the team. It is going to take a perfect game to overcome Atalanta, though, who have been using their system longer and have played very consistently beyond their means under Gasperini.

A homecoming on the wrong side of the stadium

I have so very much respect for Atalanta, and for what Gasperini has done with this team. In fact, he is the coach many Milan fans would like to upgrade to if Gattuso should leave. This game should be an amazing showdown between two teams who are fighting to finish in the top four. One is a team with fewer resources that has been quietly working and making an impression in the top flight for a while now. The other is a team of past glory with three different owners in the last two years and so many pitfalls, but with more resources, and they are finally poised to get back to where they belong. As if that wasn’t enough, having ex-players coming back home just adds to the drama. Win, draw, or lose, this match is one you don’t want to miss.

This post inspired by the music of Ella Fitzgerald

Serie A Week 24
Atalanta vs. Milan
Saturday, February 16 • 20:30 CET (2:30pm EST)
This match will be shown LIVE on RAI Italia USA in the U.S.
This match can also be streamed LIVE on ESPN+ in the U.S.

Atalanta-Milan Preview: Showdown Atalanta-Milan Preview: Showdown Reviewed by Elaine on 1:18 PM Rating: 5
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