Week 19: Milan – Atalanta
There is some relief on the injury front as well as a very 2020-2021 tale. Theo and Calhanoglu missed training prior to the Cagliari game, returned to training but eventually went back to isolation and both missed the week 18 game. It turns out Theo’s tests were a false positive and he is back in the squad for week 19. Krunic and Rebic have recovered and are back as well. Saelemaekers returned from injury in the aforementioned game but got two quick somewhat undeserved yellows to get himself suspended. Romagnoli got himself a yellows accumulation suspension. Bennacer was hoped to be ready but looks like he needs another week. Leao however returns from his suspension.
All in all it has been a chaotic past few weeks. Maldini and the management picked up the pace for a transfer window version of chaos too. After Duarte left to Turkey it was Conti’s turn. The right back left, also on loan, to Parma. His transfer can turn to an obligation if Parma stay up. In addition to Meite’s incoming loan Mandzukic and Tomori have arrived, the former on a 6 months renewable deal and the latter on loan. The Croatian veteran will help upfront and provide relief or support for Ibra. The young Canada born Chelsea center back may have few chances to showcase his talent with Kjaer and Romagnoli as the regular starters. Picking up all these options will make for an expensive 2021 summer but the team is well placed to spend some money and has managed to add both experience and highly rated youth.
Playing Atalanta is an important undertaking not only because the opponents press and score goals aplenty but also because it was this team that humiliated Milan at the end of 2019 and the memories certainly linger. The current Milan team that will face Gasperini’s men has grown by leaps and bounds since thenm and of course features Ibra. Donnarumma will start behind Calabria, Kalulu, Kjaer and Theo. The midfield duo features the improving Tonali and the ever present Kessie. There is some question as to who will play in Calhanoglu’s spot. Diaz has been the normal deputy this season but Pioli has decided to use Meite in that spot. It is probably one of the more interesting selection choices this season. Leao and Castillejo will play alongside behind Ibra. Rebic might get a few minutes in Leao’s place. One question mark added to the season is the possibility that Mandzukic and Ibra play together at the same time and what that does to the heavily favored 4-2-3-1. We may see that some time in the season.
Follow the match as it happens, on the forum.