AC Milan and Atalanta will renew hostilities at the Gewiss Arena this evening in a fixture that has never been short of drama.
La Gazzetta dello Sport begin their analysis of the game by recalling the conflicting words of Stefano Pioli and Gian Piero Gasperini in their press conferences yesterday. The Milan boss claimed it is a direct clash between rivals, while Gasperini disagreed.
They are both right in a way, because Milan are aiming for the Scudetto while Atalanta – who finished 8th and 27 points behind the Rossoneri last season – are aiming for other targets. However, after three participations in the Champions League and three consecutive third places in Serie A, La Dea have forged a status as a team that should battle for the top four.
Atalanta will have to grow above all at their home stadium as they managed no home win against the top six last year whereas in 2019-20 they were second only to champions Juventus in results against the top six.
Both clubs are similar in the sense that they aiming to focus more on young players, with the likes of Soppy and Lookman arriving at Atalanta this summer which De Ketelaere made a big-money move to Milan.
In meetings between Milan and Atalanta it is the Rossoneri that have had the better recently with three wins on the spin, and they have been three significant moments. In the last game of the 2020-21 season they earned a return to the Champions League by beating the Goddess with a brace of penalties from Kessie, while wins in October and May of the 2021-22 campaign helped push Pioli’s men towards the Scudetto.
The beautiful goal by Theo Hernandez on May 15 to seal the win at San Siro feels like a long time ago now, with a new face-off to take place tonight. The key word is pressing. The team who avoid it and the team who impose it best should win.
In the last game at the Gewiss Stadium, Theo twice escaped his man twice and first set up Calabria to make it 1-0 and then Leao to make it 2-0. Tonali took possession from Freuler and went through on goal to score the second that night. Aggression and courage: Pioli wants to see the same again.