AC Milan will look to register their second win of the 2018-19 Serie A campaign, when they taken on Atalanta on Sunday.
AC Milan will be aiming to get back to winning ways in the Serie A, when they welcome Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta to the San Siro this weekend.
The Rossoneri have had a mixed start to the new season and find themselves in the 13th place in the table after three matches, with four points on board (1W,1D,1L). Their last league match ended in a 1-1 draw against Cagliari, following which they registered a 1-0 victory over Dudelange in the UEFA Europa League during the week.
Coming into the game on the back of a three-match unbeaten streak across all competitions, manager Gennaro Gattuso will be hoping that his team take home all three points this weekend and break into the top half of the table.
Atalanta, on the other hand, find themselves just a spot behind Milan in the Serie A standings, having collected the same number of points, despite having played a game more than their Sunday’s opponents. Gasperini’s men are without a win in five games across all competitions, and were beaten 2-0 by SPAL last weekend in the league.
La Dea were victorious on their previous visit to the San Siro in December last year and the manager will be hoping to bring an end to their winless run with another away win against the Rossoneri.
Team News & Tactics
Striker Patrick Cutrone remains doubtful for Gattuso’s side, while defender Andrea Conti is sidelined. Ivan Strinic and Riccardo Montolivo will also be miss out for the home side on Sunday.
The manager has set his team in a 4-3-3 formation and that is unlikely to change when Atalanta come visiting. However, a number of changes will be on cards, after the former Italy midfielder had left out a number of regular starters for the midweek fixture.
Gianluigi Donnarumma is the undisputed choice between the sticks for Milan and will start this weekend, after sitting out of the European encounter against Dudelange. Right-back Davide Calabria is another who will return to the line-up along with fellow full-back Ricardo Rodriguez, in place of Ignazio Abate and Diego Laxalt respectively.
In the heart of the defence, captain Alessio Romagnoli will start and is likely to be partnered by Mateo Musacchio, who should replace summer signing Mattia Caldara.
Lucas Biglia will start as the deepest of the three central midfielders for the home team and look to screen his back four and launch attacks with his range of passing. Support will be provided by the dynamic duo of Franck Kessie and former Atalanta man Giacomo Bonaventura.
Spanish playmaker Suso, who did not start during the week, will be reinstated on the right-side of the attacking trident while Hakan Calhanoglu is also in line for a recall on the opposite flank. Spearheading the attack for Gattuso’s men on Sunday will be star striker Gonzalo Higuain.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Higuain, Calhanoglu;
Alejandro Gomez, who has scored and assisted two goals each this season, is expected to recover from his thigh problem and be available for selection for Atalanta. Young centre-back Marco Varnier remains a long-term absentee.
Gasperini is likely to continue with a three-man backline at San Siro, with Rafael Toloi, Jose Luis Palomino and Andrea Masiello expected to offer protection to Pierluigi Gollini’s goal against the Rossoneri. Hans Hateboer is expected to come into the starting XI at the expense of Timothy Castagne in the right wing-back slot, with Robin Gosens expected to be retained on the opposite side.
Former Middlesbrough midfielder Marten de Roon is a guaranteed starter in the midfield engine room for La Dea and will be partnered by Remo Freuler, as they look to keep the home team’s midfielders at bay and instigate attacks of their own.
On-loan Chelsea midfielder Mario Pasalic is expected to take up one of the attacking midfield slots for the visitors on Sunday, while if fit, Gomez will slot in alongside him, to provide the creativity and guile in the final third of the pitch. Duvan Zapata will start as the lone striker for Gasperini’s side.
Probable Starting XI (3-4-2-1): Collini; Toloi, Palomino, Masiello; Hateboer, Freuler, de Roon, Gosens; Pasalic, Gomez; Zapata;
- AC Milan have won their last 3 home matches in the Serie A.
- The Rossoneri have the upper hand when it comes to contests between the two sides, having won 19 of their 38 fixtures against Atalanta (11D, 8L).
- However, Atalanta are undefeated in their last 6 matches against AC Milan in all competitions.
- Atalanta have kept a clean sheet in their last 4 away matches against AC Milan in all competitions.
- AC Milan have scored at least 2 goals in their last 3 home matches in the Italian top-flight.
Player to watch
Gonzalo Higuain (AC Milan)
Having completed his high-profile loan move from Juventus to Milan in the summer, the Argentine striker is starting to show his quality at his new club. Higuain rescued a point for the Rossoneri against Cagliari last weekend with his first goal and then followed it up with the only goal of the game against Dudelange in Europe to earn his team all three points.
The 30-year old has an exceptional record against Atalanta, having netted 9 times in 10 appearances against La Dea, during his time with Napoli and Juventus. And he will once again be key for Milan, if they are to come out on top at San Siro this weekend.
AC Milan 1-0 Atalanta
Atalanta are known for putting in solid defensive displays, but have conceded six in their last three league games, while they have failed to score in their previous two matches. And these failings could come to haunt them again at San Siro.
Milan hadn’t been at their best against Cagliari and Dudelange over the past week, but showed good attitude to come away with points on both occasions. And we at The Hard Tackle believe that Gattuso’s men have enough quality to come out on top, albeit by a narrow margin.