Atalanta-Milan Preview: Resilience

The memories of the Gewiss stadium for Milan players the past two seasons could not be more polar opposite. In December of 2019, Atalanta destroyed the souls of Milan fans worldwide in what I refer to as the Christmas Massacre. Pioli was trying to find his footing, Ibrahimović was on the way, and then Atalanta absolutely decimated Milan 5-0. In contrast, our last trip to Atalanta was on the final match day last season, with Milan's entire season and Champions League qualification in the balance. The match was a tense affair, loaded with cards, and decided by two penalties for Milan. But in the end, the ecstasy was indescribable. That match demonstrated the resilience of Pioli's young team in the face of adversity, something the team will need an extra dose of this week as well.

Can this team find resilience?

Atalanta lost their rapper/goalkeeper Golloriu$ and the very talented Cristian Romero this summer, amongst others, and while that was just another transfer window for the club that is so incredible at finding young talent and knowing when to sell, they have sputtered a little bit to start this season as a result. They currently sit in sixth place with three wins, two draws, and a loss. One of those draws was a thrilling 2-2 draw to Inter last weekend, which we talked a little bit about on this week's Scudetto Podcast. However, La Dea won their Champions League match this week, and sit at the top of Group F, so will likely be coming into this match with more confidence, albeit one less day of rest.

Gasperini is entering his sixth season as head coach of Atalanta, and is currently the longest serving manager in Serie A. He has the tiny club from Bergamo playing in their third consecutive Champions League season, which is certainly more than Milan can say at this point. People consider Juventus the most successful team in Serie A, especially the past ten years, but I would make the argument that given the scouting, developing of young talent, as well as the resources and management of the club, Atalanta stand head and shoulders above the rest.

"Are you not entertained?" Yes, @Dirono, taking points from Inter is always a treat.

For Wednesday's 1-0 midweek win over Swiss side Young Boys, Gasperini lined up Musso; Tolói, Demiral, Djimsiti; Zappacosta, de Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Malinovskyi, Pessina; and Zapata. Gosens was injured in that match, and Hateboer is also out with an injury, so both will miss this one. Tolòi and Demiral both have muscle concerns and are in doubt for this match as well.

In addition to needing to recover his young team from the bitter pill they had to swallow midweek in the Champions League, Pioli is still trying to recover his team physically. Florenzi sustained another knee injury on Wednesday and had surgery on Friday, so will be out for a while. Plizzari, Krunić and Bakayoko are still recovering. Ibrahimović is getting very close to fit, but will not be available on Sunday. 

Kjaer is ready to battle his former teammate again

The good news is that Brahim Díaz, who came off early with a physical issue on Wednesday, will be available. Giroud is still not 100% fit after having COVID as well as some back problems, but should be available for the bench. Kjaer will be back, and Messias has finally been deemed match fit and is expected to be called up for this match as well. Although Conti is unlikely to feature for his former club, both Kessié and Kjaer may have something to prove against their former side.

The great American football coach Vince Lombardi said "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get back up." That is the mindset Milan will need going into this match. We are still lacking a complete squad, but that hasn't stopped us from being undefeated in the league, sitting second behind only Napoli. This match will be a true test of Milan's resilience.

This post inspired by the music of The Prodigy's "Take Me to the Hospital"

Serie A Week 7
Atalanta vs. AC Milan
Sunday, October 3 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
This match can be streamed LIVE on Paramount+

Atalanta-Milan Preview: Resilience Atalanta-Milan Preview: Resilience Reviewed by Elaine on 11:21 PM Rating: 5
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