Atalanta 1, Milan 1: The Weight of History

Last season, Milan earned an unbelievable 46 of 57 possible points away in Serie A. Tonight, in just their second match of the season, Milan already dropped two away points in a 1-1 draw. Sure, it was away to Atalanta, which is always a battle. But is there something more? In the preseason, the men only lost one game, and it was the match they wore their new white away kits. The ones with the seven stripes representing Milan's seven historic Champions League trophies. Even the women's team lost two of their three matches in their preseason tournament in the United States – the ones they were wearing the white kits. Wouldn't it be ironic if it was Puma and Milan who unintentionally found the antidote to Pioli's amazing mentality? Maybe this Milan team will struggle this season under the weight of history.

Bennacer managed to escape the weight of history

Superstition aside, Milan had 59% possession and peppered Musso's goal with 18 shots, seven of which were on target, forcing him to make six saves. Maignan faced 11 shots, but only two were on target, so he only made one save. While both sides saw four yellow cards, Atalanta racked up 15 fouls to Milan's six, which should tell you about what an intense battle this was. There is also the question of the yellow that should have been a red, but that is more about player safety than anything else.

Leão started the match off by firing into the side netting immediately, followed by shots from Brahim Díaz, and later Theo Hernández, Messias, Kalulu, and Calabria in the first half. One Atalanta player answered those efforts, the rumored-to-be-leaving Malinovskyi. Gasperini called him out in his prematch press conference, despite the Ukrainian taking all of the shots for his side in the first half. Oh, and scoring the goal. In the 29th, after a couple of other attempts, he sent a rocket in that deflected slightly off of Kalulu, confusing poor Maignan, to make it 1-0 Atalanta.

Kalulu was unlucky, but worked incredibly hard tonight

Pioli received a yellow card for dissent in the 23rd, and Rebić got a yellow in stoppage time before the half for doing Rebić things on poor Demiral. He porbably thought he still played for Juventus.

The second half was far more eventful, beginning with the yellow-that-should-have-been-red. I don't care which team it was, Hateboer's studs up challenge on Leão is a textbook red card, a call that is meant to protect players from compound fractures and other devastating injuries. I was not happy that Maresca's lack of call failed to give Milan a man advantage, either, especially when Kalulu's header from the resulting Bennacer free kick went just over, or Hateboer had a chance a few minutes later, which he obviously would not have had from the showers. But I am mainly upset when a referee fails to protect players and allows anyone to get away with such a reckless and dangerous tackle.

Leão frustrated Hateboer all night, but that's no excuse for a studs up challenge

Leão answered a few minutes later with a missile at the other end, a missile that unfortunately went just wide. Maignan's singular save was on former Milan player Pašalić in the 55th, with the Croatian making another unsuccessful attempt a couple of minutes later as well. 

In the 58th minute, Pioli brought on De Ketelaere and Giroud to replace Brahim Díaz and Rebić respectively. De Ketelaere immediately made a beautiful pass to Tonali, whose brilliant effort was thwarted point blank by Musso. At the other end, Theo Hernández covered for Tomori and Kalulu when Pašalić slipped past them, so Theo heroically made an amazing sliding tackle in the 61st. Then Giroud had a header saved at the other end by Musso in the 64th.

Musso had a good night

Saelemaekers and Origi came on for Messias and Leão in the 66th. Zapata had a shot blocked, followed by a Malinovskyi shot that went over, and at the other end, Bennacer took a shot that was saved. But on the resulting short corner from Saelemaekers, Bennacer feinted and got past his man to send a brilliant shot into the far post and past a stunned Musso to level the score. 1-1 all.

Tonali received his yellow in the 75th for fouling the newly subbed on Lookman. Then Theo Hernández dangerously collided with Djimsiti. Had the Albanian kept his cool, it would have been just a yellow for the Milan defender for a dangerous play. But he lost his cool and caused a bit of a scuffle, forcing Maresca to card both Theo and Djimsiti in the 78th.

Hopefully Theo will get the armband thing right when he learns not to get carded

In the 80th, Origi had the ball and was dancing in on goal and Djimsiti made a costly error of stepping into his path. His leg took the full force of Origi's strike, who got all leg, taking the Atalanta player down. After treatment, he had to be subbed off. I do hope his injury is not serious. No one wants to see that.

Florenzi was subbed on for the captain, Calabria, who gave the armband to one of our vice captains, Theo Hernández, who struggled a bit to get the armband on. Maybe when he learns to get fewer cautions, he'll also learn to get the armband on right-side up and with a little more ease. At the end of a frustrating five minutes of stoppage time, de Roon could not help himself and got a yellow for fouling De Ketelaere. (He almost made it through a match without a card.)

Two generals, neither really won the battle...

The match was frustrating, Milan missed a lot of chances and were thwarted by Atalanta at every turn, if not technically, then physically. But there was an edge of mentality missing. While they reacted well when the goal was scored, it was not quite enough. The Gewiss stadium was loud and imposing, and there is history there, too. But it is difficult as a fan not to ignore the fact that the only games Milan have not won since returning have been in this white kit, completely designed and marketed based on Milan's Champions League history. A burden this young team is apparently not quite ready to bear, the weight of history.

This post inspired by the music of Garbage's "I Think I'm Paranoid"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 3
Milan vs. Bologna
Saturday, August 27 • 11:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)

Atalanta 1, Milan 1: The Weight of History Atalanta 1, Milan 1: The Weight of History Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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