AC Milan will look to strengthen their position in the top four of the Serie A, when they take on Atalanta at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia on Saturday.
The fourth spot in the 2018-19 Serie A standings will be on the line when AC Milan will go head to head against Atalanta this Saturday night in Bergamo.
Milan occupy the fourth position in the table having accumulated 39 points from 23 matches till date. Following their 3-0 win over Cagliari last weekend, Gennaro Gattuso’s men made it five games unbeaten in a row in all competitions. And they will be hoping to pick up another valuable three points and strengthen their hold on the final UEFA Champions League qualifying spot.
Atalanta, on the other hand, are just a point and a place shy of Milan in the Serie A standings and will be aiming to overtake the Rossoneri with a victory at home this weekend. Gian Piero Gasperini’s side are on an eight-match unbeaten run, with their last defeat coming against Genoa in December last year. Their latest game ending in a 2-1 win over SPAL.
The two teams played out a 2-2 draw during their previous meeting back in September last year and will be pushing for a win in order to take a lead in the race for the fourth spot.
Team News & Tactics
Atalanta have a clean bill of health heading into the weekend encounter, while there are no suspended players as well, leaving manager Gasperini with a full-strength squad ahead of a crucial tie. The home team have a solid squad and prefer to line up in a 3-4-2-1 setup, which is unlikely to change when Milan come visiting.
In goal, Etrit Berisha is a certainty to feature and will be guarded by the three-man backline of Rafael Toloi, Gianluca Mancini and Jose Luis Palomino. Hans Hateboer and Timothy Castagne will take up the wing-back slots for La Dea and will provide width on the overlap, while they will need to be mindful of the onrushing Milan full-backs.
The central midfield partnership of Remo Freuler and Marten de Roon is expected to remain intact for Atalanta. The duo will be tasked with shielding their backline by breaking up play in the middle of the park. Alejandro Gomez, leading the assist charts for the home team with seven, will provide the creative outlet and will be supported by Josip Ilicic.
Leading the line for the home side against the Rossoneri will be star striker Duvan Zapata, who is the joint second-highest goalscorer in the Serie A with 16 strikes to his name.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Berisha; Toloi, Mancini, Palomino; Hateboer, Freuler, de Roon, Castagne; Gomez, Ilicic; Zapata;
Gattuso will have to make do without the services of defenders Mattia Caldara and Cristian Zapata for Milan’s trip to Bergamo, while midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura remains a long-term absentee. The Milan manager is unlikely to make any changes to the side that trumped Cagliari last time out.
Gianluigi Donnarumma is the obvious choice in goal for the Rossoneri. The Italian will be shielded by a back four comprising of Davide Calabria, Mateo Mussachio, captain Alessio Romagnoli and Ricardo Rodriguez. The full-backs, Calabria and Rodriguez, will also be tasked with providing the width going forward.
On-loan star Tiemoue Bakayoko has been in brilliant form of late and should continue to operate at the base of the three-man midfield for Milan. Franck Kessie and Lucas Paqueta will take up the remaining two slots in the middle of the park and will look to provide the forward thrust.
Spanish playmaker Suso will bring the creativity from the right flank, while Hakan Calhanoglu will hold on to his spot on the left wing and try and fashion opportunities for his teammates. Spearheading the attack for Milan will be January signing Krzysztof Piatek, who has made a deadly impact since arriving.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Bakayoko, Paqueta; Suso, Piatek, Calhanoglu;
- Atalanta are unbeaten in the last seven league meetings against AC Milan (W2 D5), after having lost six of the previous nine (W3).
- Since the beginning of December, AC Milan have conceded only four Serie A goals, a joint-record in the Top 5 European Leagues since then (tied with Barcelona).
- Atalanta have lost 22 Serie A home matches against AC Milan, but they are unbeaten in their last three – only against Juventus (26) have Atalanta lost more at home in the top-flight.
- AC Milan are unbeaten in their last six Serie A away games, recording two wins and four draws – the last time the Rossoneri went on a longer run was back in April 2013.
- Duvan Zapata has scored 16 league goals so far: the last Atalanta player to score more in a single Serie A campaign was Filippo Inzaghi in 1996-97 (24).
Player to Watch
The Poland international joined AC Milan from Genoa in a deal worth €35 million as a replacement for Gonzalo Higuain, who left for Chelsea. And the 23-year-old has hit the ground running at his new club, already making a big difference for the Rossoneri. Piatek has featured four times in all competitions for Milan, netting four goals proving his worth to Gattuso’s side in a short time.
The Polish striker was on the scoresheet against Cagliari last time out and will be aiming to fire his team to another victory on Saturday night against Atalanta, having scored and assisted one goal apiece against La Dea earlier this term for Genoa.
Atalanta 2-2 AC Milan
Both the teams come into Saturday night’s encounter on solid form, having last tasted a league defeat back in December, 2018.
Since then, Atalanta have managed to hold Juventus and AS Roma to draws in the Serie A, while also beating the Bianconeri in the cup competition. Milan have also been feisty, holding Napoli and Roma to draws in the league, while getting the better of the former in Coppa Italia.
It promises to be an entertaining clash in Bergamo on Saturday night, with both teams looking for three points, but we at The Hard Tackle predict that the game will see a similar outcome as the reverse fixture in September last year, with the spoils being shared.