The final round of the season is upon us and for Milan, an extremely important encounter with Atalanta awaits at Gewiss Stadium. After getting just one point against Cagliari last time out, the Rossoneri most likely need to win in order to secure Champions League qualification for next season.
It’s a task that won’t be easy for Stefano Pioli and his men but they are more than capable of getting the job done, as evidenced by the 3-0 win at Juventus. Atalanta have already secured their spot in the top four but will be playing for prize money, as there is about a €5m difference between finishing second and fourth.
Therefore, Milan will be up against it and without relying on any favours from Hellas Verona and Bologna, who will face Napoli and Juventus, they will need all three points from the game. It will be a very interesting game from a neutral point of view, but a nerve-wracking one for the Rossoneri fans.
Pioli will be able to rely on a strong squad for this game despite the absence of Matteo Gabbia and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It would have been a boost to have the latter available, but there’s nothing the manager can do about it. In addition to the duo, Ante Rebic is also at risk due to a minor injury (will most likely be on the bench).
The rest of the players are all healthy, though, and that is positive for Milan as they have struggled with injuries as season long. The usual starters will get the chance once again and that is understandable as the Rossoneri have kept a clean sheet in four consecutive games.
And although they scored ten goals against Juventus and Torino, they still struggled in attack against Cagliari and that will have to be resolved. Rebic’s injury has made that easier for Pioli as he’s expected to field Rafael Leao up front instead, seeing as the Croatian could perhaps make the bench at best.
Brahim Diaz will thus get another chance from start and he will be an important player for Milan tomorrow, just like all of the attackers. As long as they can create some chances and actually convert them, then they will have a pretty good chance of claiming all three points tomorrow evening.
As for Atalanta, no injuries were indicated but Hans Hateboer has been left out of the squad, which was announced this afternoon. Joakim Maehle will most likely replace the Dutchman and it’s safe to say that Gian Piero Gasperini will field a strong XI against San Siro side tomorrow. The speculations of getting any favours from them can thus be put to bed.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Bennacer, Kessie; Saelemaekers, Diaz, Calhanoglu; Leao.
Probable Atalanta XI (3-4-1-2): Gollini; Toloi, Romero, Djimsiti; Maehle, De Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Malinovskyi; Zapata, Muriel.
- Milan have only achieved one win in their last 11 Serie A TIM games against Atalanta (D6 L4): a 3-1 away win in February 2019, with Gennaro Gattuso on the bench.
- Atalanta won their last home game against Milan in Serie A TIM (5-0) – only once in their history have the Nerazzurri have achieved two consecutive home wins against the Rossoneri in the competition, between 2006 and 2008.
- Milan have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four Serie A TIM games and last had a longer such run in March 2006 (five); Atalanta have scored 27 goals in their last nine home league games, averaging three per match.
- Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovskiy is the first midfielder to have been involved in a goal for 10 consecutive Serie A TIM games since 2004/05 – overall (all positions), only Fabio Quagliarella (11 in 2018/19) and Cristiano Ronaldo (18 in 2019/20) have had longer such runs during this period.
- Since the beginning of the last decade, only two AC Milan midfielders have been involved in at least 15 goals in a Serie A TIM season: Hakan Calhanoglu (18 in 2019/20) and former Atalanta player Franck Kessié (15: 11 goals and four assists this season).
It’s a very tough game to call as a lot will depend on the motivation of Atalanta, who lost the Coppa Italia final against Juventus on Wednesday. They could be tired, but they could also be fired up to get revenge and end the season on a strong note, which would be worrying for the away side.
Milan are the best team on the road and a Juve-esque push will be needed to get the desired result tomorrow. Everything is on the line and it will be very interesting to see the reaction of the Rossoneri players, who could redeem themselves and secure Champions League with a strong performance.
Atalanta 1-2 Milan
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