Milan-Atalanta: A Point to Prove

Many have talked about Milan being crowned Winter Champions this week, an unofficial progress marker of the halfway point in the season for being top of the table at this point. Despite some early celebrations, Milan technically need just one more point, or for Inter to drop points, to be officially the unofficial winners of nothing but the off the record top of the table team of midway through the season. Personally, I would like three points and for Inter to drop points, but I'm greedy like that. In order to solidify our imaginary title, we are facing Atalanta. Kessie's former team that he said had inspired our current run of form, after the 5-0 Christmas Massacre in Bergamo just over a year ago. So either way you look at it, Milan have a point to prove.

He is either showing the score last time we met, his new(old) number, or the size of Atalanta's estranged captain

Gasperini and his miniature captain, Papu Gomez, had a lover's quarrel at the beginning of this season, which has resulted in the fan favorite being frozen out and Atalanta refusing to sell him to a Serie A rival. No idea why this bridge was burned and not able to be mended. It's Italy, so it could be something as innocuous as insulting someone's mother, or as serious as putting panna in the carbonara. Either way, it has impacted the team in the form of some incredibly unpredictable form. For example, after four convincing wins, on Sunday, they drew 0-0 to lower table Genoa, and in a midweek makeup match against Udinese, the team just above Genoa on the table, they were only able to produce a 1-1 draw.

That said, Atalanta will have two days less rest than Milan, but will still be unpredictable tomorrow. On Wednesday, against Udinese, Gasperini lined up Gollini (aka Gollorius); Toloi, Romero, Palomino; Hateboer, Pessina, de Roon, Maehle; Malinovskyi, Miranchuk; and Muriel. His only player that is in doubt is our old friend Pasalic, who is suffering from pubalgia, so his fitness is a last minute decision.

More of this, please

Pioli is down two defenders so far in the mercato, with both Duarte and Conti moving out of the squad. He has had the midfielder Meïté, who is on loan from Torino, for a week now, who got some time on Monday. He also has Mandzukic up front, who just arrived on Tuesday. Tomori is supposed to be in Milan today taking medicals, so there is a slight chance he could be available tomorrow. However, Romagnoli and Saelemaekers are suspended for this one, with Bennacer and Gabbia still injured, and Calhanoglu testing positive for COVID-19. So only five players out this time.

The great news is that Theo Hernandez turned out to be a false positive for the virus, so will return, and both Rebic and Krunic are returning after their two week COVID-19 vacations, too. They may not all be match fit, but are welcome additions to our beleaguered squad. They increase our chances of actually getting revenge in the form of three points, after we drew 1-1 with Atalanta in July, again with missing players. But for some perspective, Biglia and Laxalt both played in that match. That seems like a distant memory, perhaps even a childhood nightmare that you had forgotten about.

Almost halfway there

Milan will have to maintain mentality and defend with vengeance against a team who are in Champions League for a reason, and they cannot help but score. We can take advantage of the mental weaknesses caused by the Gasperini-Papu Gomez breakup if we stay focused and keep playing the way Milan have played since that massacre in December of 2019. Plus, if we want the invisible accolades of being Winter Champions, we will need a result from this one. Whether for vengeance or fake glory, Milan have a point to prove.

This post inspired by the music of She Wants Revenge

Serie A Week 19
Milan vs. Atalanta
Saturday, January 23 • 18:00 CET (12noon EST)
This match can be streamed on ESPN+ in the U.S.

Milan-Atalanta: A Point to Prove Milan-Atalanta: A Point to Prove Reviewed by Elaine on 1:03 AM Rating: 5
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