Serie A Preview: AC Milan v. Atalanta

Date: Saturday, November 7, 2015

Kickoff: 2:45 PM ET (USA) / 20:45 CET (ITA)

League Position: Milan (6), Atalanta (8)

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy

Three wins a row! Count them! A whole three! So maybe we haven’t been overly impressive, but we comfortably beat a solid Lazio side in Rome last time out, and any Rossoneri fans desperate for signs of a resurgence just might have found them. To keep the good times rolling this weekend and continue climbing the table Milan must get past an inconsistent but capable Atalanta side.

Speaking of consistency, the Milan line-up has been relatively stable during this recent run of success, as has the 4-3-3 formation. Maybe Mihajlovic’s growing pains are starting to disappear at a good time. If we can get past La Dea and get a result in Turin the next round against Juve, a very winnable stretch of matches follows. Not that this Rossoneri side has earned the right to look ahead of the match at hand, but at least things finally appear to be headed (slowly, still) in the right direction.

Tale of the Tape

Last 6 Serie A matches:

Atalanta: WLWLWL

Milan and Atalanta have split their fixtures in the past three seasons. Last season both teams won away, the season before both teams won at home, and the season previous to that the away teams took the three points.

Only two points and two spots behind Milan in the table, but the visitors this weekend have been woeful in their travels. With just one victory away from home and only three goals goals scored in those games (none in the last 3), they face a tough challenge at the San Siro where we’ve won 4 out 5 on the season.

Both teams have a bit of a love/hate relationship with set pieces. Milan have now scored from 6, while also conceding from 6. Atalanta have scored from 4 and, you guessed it, conceded from 4.

De Sciglio, Kucka, and Cerci will be busy. Milan attack down their right flank 41% of the time, the highest in Serie A. Atalanta meanwhile, attack down their left side 42% of the time, also the high-water mark in the league this season.

Neither of these sides have gone for possession football much this season. Both average less than 50% possession and both play 70 long balls each match on average.

Cerci has looked good. I mean played well. No one looks good in that jersey.

Cerci has looked good. I mean played well. No one looks good in that jersey.

Missing Pieces

Menez is out still, and Balotelli and Abate are getting comfortable on the training table next to him. Diego Lopez’s knee is acting up again and Bertolacci went down after scoring last round. Bonaventura rounds out the absences, suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

Atalanta are missing, well, no one.

Possible Line-up


De Sciglio – Mexes – Romagnoli – Antonelli

Kucka – Montolivo – De Jong

Cerci – Bacca – Niang

Donnarumma has been about as good as you can expect a 16-year old to be, and like it or not, he’s going to have to keep it up with Diego Lopez affected by his knee again. Not that Abbiati is incapable, but it looks like the future is now in between the sticks for Milan.

Mexes returned to the line-up with a bang and should slot in between the consistent trio of De Sciglio, Romagnoli, and Antonelli.

With Bertolacci injured and Bonaventura suspended I expect De Jong back in the fold alongside Montolivo and Kucka.

And up front, Cerci has certainly rewarded the faith of his manager in both him and a system that caters to his skills. Bacca scores, Bacca plays. And for the third attacker, if Niang can go I’d like to see what he’s got, though Honda may be the more likely option.

Viva Colombia!

Viva Colombia!

What to Watch for:

Danger Man – Alejandro Gomez has emerged as Atalanta’s most dynamic attacking threat this season. With 3 goals and 2 assists thus far, the 27-year old Argentine is strong on the ball and usually quite disciplined with it. Equally comfortable receiving the ball up top or springing forward on the counter, I believe he’s most likely to trouble our back line on Saturday.

Irregulars – With Bertolacci and Bonaventura out, some of the players who have been overlooked recently will get a chance to reestablish themselves in the side. I’ll be keeping a close eye on whoever gets the start at these positions and how they fit into the most recent formation. While I don’t believe Mihajlovic’s preferred XI is totally set in stone, the likes of Honda, Poli, and De Jong must grab these opportunities if they want to see meaningful playing time.

About Dave Lamb

Dave Lamb is a lifelong Milan supporter, public school teacher, and aspiring stand-up comedian living in Boston. You can follow him on twitter @DaveLambComedy

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