Staido Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, Bergamo
Sunday, May 11, 2013; 10:30 Hrs GMT
Europa League football for next season is no longer even a mathematical probability for Milan as they make a short trip to Bergamo to face the Lombardian cousins Atalanta in the penultimate round of fixtures. And it wouldn’t really have been wise to harbour the hopes of qualification anymore. Clarence Seedorf should instead focus on trying out some more combination of players and formations and allow his side to simply make a strong statement of intent. But the recent turn of events at Milanello suggests Seedorf himself is facing uncertainties over his future at the club and that shouldn’t help the matters, even if one were to concede the remaining games aren’t very significant ones.
Team News & Tactical Brief
After finishing 15th the previous season, Atalanta have had a fairly decent campaign and while a top half finish looks unlikely, there are still reasons for them to be moderately content with the way things have panned out this time around. For a club of their budget and pedigree of the first squad, they have showed remarkable stability which is evident with the fact the head coach Stefano Colantuono is about to complete his fourth season in charge.
Atalanta’s form this season however has gone quite severely downhill since the month of April where the side managed to accumulate nomore than a solitary point from six games put together. That the dip in form was followed by a dream streak of six straight wins is even more disheartening. But despite the recent shenanigans, survival has never been a bone of contention for La Dea and hence this particular game and the one to follow on the final matchday do not carry too much weight for them either.
Colantuono is expected to continue with his favoured 4-4-1-1 formation which looks compact and solid with two banks of four – a rarity in Italy these days. The central midfield partnership of Carmona and Baselli will have their task cut out against the Milanese counterparts. Their role should very well be limited to stay off the ball and deny space to the likes of Montolivo and Poli. Milan are likely to make a tweak in their midfield diagram and there lies an opportunity for Atalanta to not let them settle and perhaps even dare and press them hard. The two central midfielders should be flanked on either side by Raimondi and Bonaventura. Should Milan field a narrow looking attacking line, Atalanta’s wide midfielders might very well fancy advancing from the flanks and keep the Rossoneri fullbacks in very good check.
The forward line shall be led by the ever so reliable German Denis while playing off him in a slightly withdrawn role will be Maxi Moralez. Defence has not been Milan’s strength this season and Denis is certainly more than a threat for the visitors here.
Probable Starting Lineup [4-4-1-1]: Consigli; Nica, Benalouane, Migliaccio, Brivio; Raimondi, Baselli, Carmona, Bonaventura; Moralez; Denis
Since being appointed as the head coach of one of the biggest clubs in the world without having any managerial credentials to show for, it won’t be unreasonable to suggest, Clarence Seedorf hasn’t disappointed. He has erred and he has done everything in his power to correct them. He has rotated the squad well, he has applied several tactical variations and has yielded results in patches too. However, nothing seems certain about his future at the present and one shouldn’t really be surprised, should the remaining two games in the season turn out to be his last in this short spell at the club he rose to the status of legend as a player.
In a proposed tactical switch, Seedorf is likely to try out what could be a cross between Max Allegri’s 4-3-1-2 and Carlo Ancelotti’s Christmas Tree wherein Kaka is expected to slot in as an auxiliary forward playing off Balotelli while Adel Taarabt, who has so far excelled from a wider position should start in the hole. So far, Seedorf has insisted on the mobility of his attacking line where players indulge into quick exchange of passes and positions but that might not be the case when he fields them narrow in this game.
In a formation that clearly lacks width upfront, the fullbacks will have a greater role to play in adding teeth to the attack should the midfield be stifled for space. Mattia De Sciglio is expected to resume his duties on the right flank while the other wing should be patrolled by Kevin Constant. The midfield three should comprise of Montolivo, De Jong and Poli. In this particular shape, Nigel De Jong may have a more important role to play than merely acting as a shield for the defensive line. Montolivo will be the guiding force engineering the attacking build-ups from the back while Andrea Poli, of the three, should be the one playing in the most advanced areas of the pitch.
Probable Starting Lineup [4-3-1-2]: Amelia; De Sciglio, Rami, Mexes, Constant; Montolivo, De Jong, Poli; Taarabt; Kaka, Balotelli
Player To Watch Out For
Mattia De Sciglio (Milan)
For the reputation of being one of the most prodigious talents all across Europe, De Sciglio has had a fairly silent season; injuries having played their part there. There have been talks of a move away from Milan in the summer but the fan are hopeful of him realizing those lofty standards he has set for himself in the Rossoneri colours during the years to come. This is his chance at the fag-end of the season to deliver a performance that may not change Milan’s fortuned for the season greatly but helps the fans restore their belief and confidence in him.
Atalanta 0-2 Milan
Barring the game against Roma, Milan have been clinical in their recent outings and that should not change in the trip to Bergamo. The change in formation might affect the rhythm in the game but ultimately the superiority in the attacking department should prove to be enough for the Rossoneri to register a rather comfortable victory.