Milan-Atalanta Preview: The Big One

Milan and Atalanta are the only two unbeaten teams in Serie A since coming back from the break. That means only a draw makes that still true for both teams. Considering that Atalanta have scored 95 goals in Serie A this season, five of them against us in our tragic meeting in December, it is unlikely that a draw would be goalless. But our previous meeting was P.Z., or Pre-Zlatan. Atalanta have yet to face the new iteration of Milan. With mentality and results powering both sides, this one is going to be the big one.

What the San Siro looks like lately

Atalanta’s entire wagebill is only €36 million, yet Gasperini has them playing some of the best and most entertaining football in Europe. In fact, anyone who has seen both Juventus and Atalanta play would probably agree that Atalanta have a better chance at making the Champions League final than Juventus, a team that are paid €294 million per year in wages. Atalanta are simply phenomenal, and they are not some one-off team. This is a project that has been carefully built for several years now.

Of course, the team are still human, and they can struggle on occasion, including in their 1-0 win over Bologna on Tuesday. They got the job done, but Gasperini lost his temper, and after a classic Mihajlovic profanity-laced tirade aimed in his direction, he was shown a red card. He will not be on the touchline on Friday. Against Bologna, Gasperini lined up Gollini (aka Gollorius;) Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti; Castagne, de Roon, Freuler, Gosens; one-time Milan player Pasalic; Gomez, and Zapata. Hateboer returns from a one match ban, but as of this writing, it appears that Gasperini will be the only one to miss this match.

What he'll look like screaming from the stands instead

Milan guaranteed ourselves seventh place or better on Tuesday with a 2-1 win over Sassuolo. This means we will have Europa League next season. And with Napoli dropping points yesterday, we go into this match in sixth place, but needing to take every point to try to avoid unnecessary qualification rounds. Also, there’s that humiliating 5-0 smackdown Atalanta handed us for Christmas that we need to avenge.

Securing a European place came at a price, though. We lost Romagnoli to injury, he will miss the rest of the season. Tests on Conti’s knee showed nothing serious, but whether or not he will be available for this match is unknown at this time. Castillejo could return for this one, however Kjær, who actually spent the first half of this season on loan to Atalanta, is in doubt and did not train with the team on Wednesday. Bennacer and Theo Hernandez are both suspended for this one due to card accumulation. With Musacchio still out for the season, our defense is absolutely decimated just in time for us to meet the most attacking team by far this season. Perfect.

Look who came to Milan since we last met...

Just because we beat Bologna 5-1 on Saturday and Atalanta only managed to beat them 1-0 on Tuesday does not in any way give us the edge in this match. Particularly with Milan missing so many key players. However, Atalanta will want to hang onto second place, ahead of that other Nerazzurri side and their overrated and overpaid coach. Milan need to maintain sixth or better to avoid Europa League qualifying rounds. Not to mention that both teams are playing such attractive football, this game looks to be epic. This one is the big one.

This post inspired by the music of U2’s War album

Serie A Week 36
Milan vs. Atalanta
Friday, July 24 • 21:45 CEST (3:45pm EDT)
This match can be streamed LIVE on ESPN+ in the U.S.

Milan-Atalanta Preview: The Big One Milan-Atalanta Preview: The Big One Reviewed by Elaine on 5:00 AM Rating: 5
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