Atalanta 3, Milan 2: Bloody December

Saturday evening, Milan went to Bergamo looking for three points, but came back empty-handed. After two consecutive league wins, Milan lost 3-2 to Atalanta. While at least the five goals were more evenly distributed than the 5-0 Christmas Massacre four years ago, losing to Gasperini's side is also painful. Worse still, a late sending off with Milan's fifth red card of the season directly contributed to the loss, emphasizing the disciplinary issues on top of the loss. What Milan fans were hoping was the turn of the tide turned into the start of a potentially bloody December. 

A loss in the 95th minute on 10 men is a bitter pill to swallow.

This one was personal, in that we faced De Ketelaere, who was sent away by this new management, a group of men who clearly do not actually know anything about football, but are here to pad their CVs. (Although ironically, it was Moncada who recommended De Ketelaere in the first place.) And sure enough, the young Belgian took the first shot of the match in just the second minute. Luckily for us, he was inspired by the Milan crest and returned to his shooting form from last year, missing a massive 1v1 chance with Maignan in the ninth minute as well. Another big chance came in the 28th, but would have been called back anyway, as La Penna, the referee, whistled for him fouling Theo Hernández in the buildup.

Milan took shots, too. Tomori, Giroud, Reijnders, and more all had chances. But it was Atalanta who broke the deadlock in the 38th, with a goal from Lookman, which deflected off Tomori and into the back of Maignan's net. 1-0 Atalanta.

The first half ended with hugs for Giroud and disappointment for De Ketelaere.

To their credit, Milan did not lose intensity after going down a goal, instead working harder to create more chances. Finally, in stoppage time, they were given that chance, albeit slightly controversially. Although Musah clearly fouled Lookman, La Penna allowed advantage (or somehow missed it?) and Milan ended up earning a corner. Atalanta were furious, and to make matters worse, Milan scored on the play, with Giroud heading in Florenzi's corner. 1-1 all. And then the whistle blew for halftime. Fortune favors the bold, I guess.

That infuriated Atalanta enough that they came out twice as determined in the second half, while Milan did not raise their level of play to match. After close calls from first Pašalić, then a Scalvini shot that was first deflected, and still had to be tipped over by Maignan, Atalanta got another goal in the 55th. It was Lookman again, but this time, he was assisted by the Milan-owned De Ketelaere. 2-1 Atalanta. 

Good that D'Ottavio, Moncada, and Furlani all got to see De Ketelaere get the last laugh in this one.

That was egg on the face for Milan's foolhardy directors, who had posted a picture of themselves on Milan's social media accounts at the beginning of the match with the caption "Supporting the team in Bergamo." (This was in response to Maldini calling them out last week for their lack of support.) Only at the end of the match, when the team actually needed their support, they were nowhere to be seen or heard. 

De Ketelaere now has two goals and three assists for Atalanta so far this season, despite spending some time out injured as well, a better record than most of Milan's new signings. That is also embarrassing for the sad journalists who were trying to continue their narrative about Maldini making an error in signing ahead of the match. It seems it was actually Furlani and Moncada who made the error in sending him away too soon. Also damning of this poor owner/management was De Ketelaere's statement about the difference in atmosphere at Atalanta after the match, "Even after this difficult recent period, nobody was angry with anyone else, and that is so important."

De Ketelaere vs. Reijnders

Pioli brought Bennacer on for Chukwueze in the 59th, but neither player was particularly effective in this match. In the 71st minute, the cards, which had been non-existent to that point, started flowing. First Reijnders, for trying to stop his Netherlands and also former AZ Alkmaar teammate Koopmeiners. Then Calabria in the 80th for trying to stop De Ketelaere by pulling on his shorts, the only thing he could get hold of.

In the meantime, Maignan had a massive double save against first Scalvini, then Lookman, then cleared the ball as well. Also, Pioli made an impact sub of Jović on for Loftus-Cheek. Yes, you read that correctly. After his first goal against Frosinone last week, Pioli mentioned that Jović had some fitness issues at the beginning of the season. That no longer seems to be an issue, as he scored in the 80th minute, less than ten minutes after coming on, to bring Milan back level again. 2-2 all.

Jović scored for the second time in two matches.

Apparently, Pioli felt the pressure, or was too afraid to use young players in such an intense match, because his third and final sub was to bring Adli on for Reijnders in the 88th minute. This despte the fact that Milan have a huge Champions League match on Wednesday and other players could have probably used more rest, too. Pioli's player management is obviously one of the many factors involved in the current injury catastrophe.

Also in the 88th, Jović got a yellow card for a foul on Scalvini. While Jović is starting to produce goals, he does not seem to be able to do it without also being cautioned. Bennacer also saw yellow in the 92nd for a foul on Muriel. And even though Milan looked like they would at least hold onto the draw, in the 93rd minute, Calabria was shown a second yellow card, and thus a red card. Our captain was sent off, Milan were down to 10 men, and that marked Milan's fifth red card of the season, well ahead of any other Serie A team in terms of players sent off so far, and as many as our last two seasons combined.

Not sure if Calabria needed a break, but he'll get one vs. Monza.

Not only was that devastating to think of for our next match league against Monza, with five defenders out injured already, being on 10 men directly impacted the result of this match. Milan were suddenly struggling, and it took less than two minutes for Atalanta to find a vulnerable moment. Luis Muriel did that with an agonizingly beautiful backheel to make it 3-2 Atalanta and give them all three points. Not that Milan stopped, Tomori did his best with an attempt right after that, but it was not to be.

What felt almost like hope after pulling off back-to-back wins in Serie A despite missing nine players all came crashing down at the final whistle. Clickbait journalists and reactive fans will focus on Calabria's desperation and sending-off, but this team was built to win these matches over 90 minutes, regardless of individual errors. The fact that injuries and discipline are affecting results so much demonstrates that this is a mentality issue, and this management have no idea how to fix the problem. While Milan should easily be in the Scudetto conversation with the sheer amount spent this summer, after a battered and bruised October and November, fans are facing a bloody December.

This post inspired by the music of The The's "The Beat(en) Generation"

Our next Primavera match is 
UEFA Youth League Group Stage
Newcastle United FC U19 vs. AC Milan Primavera
Wednesday, December 13, 2023 • 14:00 CET (8am EST)
Match is available on with a free account
and should also be available to stream on AC Milan app

Our next match is 
Champions League Group Stage
Newcastle United FC vs. AC Milan
Wednesday, December 13, 2023 • 21:00 CET (3pm EST)
In the U.S., you can use a VPN to access a Champions League provider elsewhere*
(*one that does not also sponsor Inter's kits)

Atalanta 3, Milan 2: Bloody December Atalanta 3, Milan 2: Bloody December Reviewed by Elaine on 2:00 AM Rating: 5
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