Milan-Atalanta Preview: Sunday Bloody Sunday

For the third time this season, Milan will face off against our other Nerazzurri nemesis, Atalanta. Milan fans will remember the "galvanizing" (read: soul stealing) 5-0 Christmas massacre Milan suffered back in 2019. It was like in those movies when the main character loses every single member of his family and everything important to him, and spends the rest of the movie getting stronger and exacting a very painful revenge against those who destroyed his life. That loss created the mentality that drove Milan to their return to the Champions League, then their Scudetto victory, and the Champions League Semifinal this past season. However this season, we have once again fallen victims to Atalanta, with a 3-2 loss in December in Bergamo, and referee Di Bello helping them knock us out of the Coppa Italia with a 2-1 win in January at San Siro. So this one will not be pretty. Either Milan show up and exact a revenge, or we once again fall victim to our Kryptonite from Bergamo. Whichever way it goes, it is undoubtedly going to be a Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Whomever ends up taking on Atalanta, they will be ready for battle.

When thinking of Atalanta, a controversial conversation surrounds De Ketelaere, the young player Milan invested in and then sent on loan to Atalanta with option to purchase. After struggling to perform at Milan, he has a whopping ten goals and six assists in all competitions for La Dea this season. In contrast, our top three scorers are Giroud with 13 goals and nine assists, Pulisic with eight goals and eight assists, and Leão with eight goals and seven assists in all competitions. As Maldini reiterated, you need to trust in youth. Gasperini has pointed out that De Ketelaere is where his is because of his year at Milan and the work he did with Pioli, and Pioli has also acknowledged that he was aware of De Ketelaere's potential as well and complemented Gasperini on his work. Despite standing to possibly break even or perhaps make a small amount with bonuses and potential future sell-on fees on the sale of De Ketelaere to Atalanta, Milan are likely going to regret sending him away this year.

Our little Belgian is all grown up and scoring and assisting like crazy.

Atalanta come into this match in fifth place and with a game in hand, just seven points behind Milan. Their most recent match was a week ago Saturday, a 3-0 win over Sassuolo at home. For that match, the much despised Gasperini lined up: Carnesechi; Scalvini, Djimsiti, Kolašinac; Holm, former Milan player and still Milan fan Pašalić, Éderson, Zappacosta; Koopmeiners; Miranchuk, and the still Milan-owned De Ketelaere. He will be missing Palomino to injury. However, he receives a boost from Lookman, who is returning from injury and should be available for this match.

Pioli got more good news this week. After the return of Kalulu and Tomori to group training, Calabria also returned to training with the group. While Tomori will not be available until possibly Friday's match, Kalulu and Calabria should be available at least from the bench for this match. Which leaves only Pobega and Tomori out injured. And Jović suspended, of course. Amazing. Pioli finally has choices to make and also options within a match, it is a thing of beauty and wonder. 

Getting the gang back together after injuries.

While Pioli is under fire from mindless Pioli Out fans and clickbait journalists, he got a nice compliment from this year's coach of the year and Scudetto winning manager, Luciano Spalletti, who said that Milan were a team he always enjoyed watching. He said Milan "is probably the most chameleon-like among the greats, and their matches are always different. They know how to do a bit of everything. Pioli always manages to put a competitive team on the field at a high level, enhancing the qualities of the entire squad."

Pioli managed his starters much better in the 3-2 loss to Rennes on Thursday, which means he should be able to start his strongest available 11 vs. Atalanta on Sunday. If he does that, and they show the mentality they have shown recently, then there is no reason that Milan cannot get a result against Atalanta, if not all three points. Particularly since we will have the San Siro supporting the team. Pioli apparently quoted Guardiola in his prematch press conference, saying facing Atalanta was "like going to the dentist, it's annoying." However, if Pioli fails to start his best eleven, or if the players simply make the absurd errors they have been making lately like they did vs. Monza, for example, then it will be Milan who will be crying Sunday Bloody Sunday.

This post inspired by the music of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 26
Milan vs. Atalanta
Sunday, February 25, 2024 • 20:45 CET (2:45 EST)
In the U.S., you can use a VPN to access a Serie A provider elsewhere
For example, sign up for BeIN Sports in Australia or SuperSport in South Africa,
they both use the World Feed commentary for Serie A, which is fantastic
(*and they also do not sponsor Inter's kits)

Milan-Atalanta Preview: Sunday Bloody Sunday Milan-Atalanta Preview: Sunday Bloody Sunday Reviewed by Elaine on 12:02 PM Rating: 5
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