The five key battles that could win or lose the game for Milan against Atalanta

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan face Atalanta at San Siro tonight hoping to get some revenge after their two defeats against them so far this season in Serie A and the Coppa Italia.

Milan come into the game off the back of two defeats – against Monza in the league and Stade Rennais in the Europa League – while they face an Atalanta side who have won six in a row and are on a real roll.

The outcome of the game will be heavily influenced by some key battles across the pitch, starting with Rafael Leao‘s against Giorgio Scalvini. The winger has not scored in the league for five months now but he does like a goal against Atalanta.

Scalvini meanwhile is one of the most highly rated young defenders in world football and is expected to play on the right side of a three-man defence this evening, so he faces a stern test against Leao.

Teun Koopmeiners tormented Milan during the Coppa Italia game last month, scoring a brace to win the tie for his side, so Ismael Bennacer will have to be at his best to stop him doing more damage.

The Algerian is tipped to play alongside Yacine Adli in the double pivot and it is presumed he will be tasked with stopping Koopmeiners given he is a bit more responsible in the defensive phase.

Speaking of which, Charles De Ketelaere has been in excellent form since making a summer swich to Atalanta on loan with an option to buy, and he will come up against Malick Thiaw.

Thiaw had a difficult night in Monza as he gave away a penalty and could have done better on a couple of the goals, so he must respond in the right way against an opponent who has 10 goals this season.

Moving back to Milan’s attack, Olivier Giroud is expected to come back into the starting line-up having been on the bench for the last two, taking the spot of Luka Jovic and in turn coming up against Isak Hien.

Hien was a January signing for Atalanta who impressed at Verona, so the 25-year-old Swede will be keen to test himself against one of the game’s most decorated forwards, while Giroud is aiming to get 20 goals this season having already racked up 15.

Finally, we end with the duel between Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ederson. The Englishman has been in superb scoring form in 2024 so far having netted six goals, and should be fresh after starting Thursday’s game on the bench.

Ederson meanwhile has been outstanding for Atalanta and has quickly established himself as a key part of Gian Piero Gasperini’s system, drawing admiring glances from top clubs around Europe.


Tags AC Milan Milan Atalanta


  1. Whether we win or lose tonight has a lot to do with which Thiaw we get – Maldini’s scoop of the century or Cristian Zapata 2.0?

    1. Need to reintegrate him back in one way or the other. Hopefully he isn’t put into positions to have to defend 1-on-1’s on the counter.

    2. Ah yes, when the wind blows and it’s bad in the moment it always is a Maldini signing right? When things are great it’s only Moncada. Wonder if the same comment would be said when Thiaw comes back into form? 🤔

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