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Following the week 17 humiliation of losing 3-0 to 19th placed Verona the team went into ritiro, a retreat where the players spend all day together free of distractions. One is entitled to question if such a tactic works on millionaire players at all, nevertheless the team needs to find ways to win and not react poorly to set backs. Verona’s first goal was somewhat unlucky but the team did not react positively after conceding it. The retreat caused plenty of controversy and words written by various papers, ultimately this season is likely lost as catching the top 4 (and Champions League football next season) is even less likely than it was before week 17.
One question is not only if the ritiro will have an effect but if the tactics on the pitch will be good enough and implemented well. The predicted line ups by newspapers such as Gazzetta list Kalinic as a starter. Ritiro or not there is little reason to have confidence in the Croat finding his scoring shoes. Not for the first time this season experts and fans are entitled to ask ‘Why not Cutrone?’ if Kalinic does start. With Suso suspended after his red at the final whistle vs Verona Gattuso may use Calhanoglu as a nominal left winger and switch Borini to right wing. Cutrone may get one of those spots and it is almost certainly a better option. The midfield may or may not remain the same, Montolivo, Kessie and Bonaventura are the most likely starters again with an outside chance of seeing Biglia in the middle and Montolivo replacing Kessie. Romagnoli is suspended as well, for an accumulation of yellows, and Zapata is the leading candidate to take his place.
Atalanta are not the same team as Verona of course and on paper this is a much harder match. Led by Josip Ilicic and former Milan midfielder Bryan Cristante Atalanta are doing almost as well as last season’s surprising 4th placed finish.