Stefano Pioli's AC Milan take on Atalanta in Serie A this weekend

Serie A: Atalanta Catching COVID-Hit Milan at Right Time

AC Milan vs Atalanta

AC Milan are still on top of Serie A, three points clear of rivals Inter. However, that could very well change this weekend as the leaders face a dangerous visitor in Atalanta.

After a rough start to the season, ‘The Goddess’ has returned to form in recent months as they’ve reeled off an impressive unbeaten run in the league.

Furthermore, Atalanta are catching Milan at the right time as the Rossoneri face a rash of COVID-related absences, which have significantly shifted the Serie A 2021 betting odds in Atalanta’s favour.

 

Talking Points

COVID-hit Milan significantly shorthanded

AC Milan returned to top spot in Serie A as they took care of struggling Cagliari, 2-0. Milan talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who finally returned from injury in their previous match against Torino, made quite an impact in his first start back as he bagged a brace.

The ageless Swede is now up to 12 goals on the season in just 8 league appearances and has scored in all 7 of his starts.

But amid the good news of Zlatan’s return, the bad news is that Milan have been hit with a number of COVID-19 positive tests, which includes Ante Rebic, Hakan Calhanoglu, and Theo Hernandez. Meanwhile, Rafael Leao served out a one-game suspension.

 

Leao is set to return against Atalanta, but Rebic, Hernandez and Calhanoglu will be big misses. Those three have been key players in Milan’s attack this season and have 6 goals and 12 assists between them.

With all their absentees in attack, Milan’s new signing, 34-year-old Mario Mandzukic, may be forced to play against Atalanta despite just arriving at the club a few days ago.

Meanwhile, Milan also have major issues in defence. Starting centre-back Simon Kjaer exited the Cagliari match early due to a lower back injury, while Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli picked up a fifth yellow card and will be suspended.

Young centre-back Matteo Gabbia has also tested positive for COVID, which means Milan will be short on defenders against one of the top attacking sides in the league.

 

Atalanta getting back to their best

After a rocky start to their campaign, Atalanta appear to have steadied the ship in Serie A. La Dea have gone nine games unbeaten in the league (5 wins, 4 draws) and are now back up to 5th in the table.

That run included some impressive Serie A 2021 results like their 5-1 demolition of Sassuolo and a 4-1 win at newly promoted Benevento.

However, they have since had back-to-back disappointing draws against Genoa and Udinese, who are both down near the relegation zone.

Gian Piero Gasperini made a number of changes in attack during their midweek matchup against Udinese. The likes of Duvan Zapata, Josip Ilicic, and Robin Gosens didn’t start, although they came in as substitutes. All three should return to the starting XI against Milan, though.

Josip Ilicic made his 100th Serie A appearance for Atalanta vs Udinese

Josip Ilicic in action during Atalanta BC’s Serie A match

Ilicic has been getting back to top form in recent weeks. The Slovenian has 2 goals and 5 assists over his last 7 league outings. His resurgence has helped make up for captain Papu Gomez’s departure from the side. Youngster Matteo Pessina has also played well as Atalanta’s new No. 10.

Atalanta have had some problems away from home of late. While they’ve lost just once in nine away games – a 4-1 hammering at Napoli – they have drawn four of their last five outside the Gewiss Stadium.

However, they should feel right at home at the San Siro as they played their Champions League home games in the stadium last season while the Gewiss was being renovated.

 

History

Atalanta have been quite competitive against AC Milan in their recent Serie A meetings. Milan have the slight 10-8 edge in wins, while there have been 7 draws.

Atalanta absolutely smashed Milan 5-0 at home last season. Josip Ilicic was brilliant in that match as he scored a brace and set up another goal.

Milan held Atalanta to a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture at the San Siro. The two sides have drawn 6 of their last 10 meetings, with Milan winning just once.

 

Betting Tip

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AC Milan vs Atalanta AC Milan Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 1.85
January 24, 01:00 (GMT+8)

Because of Milan’s long list of major absentees, SBOTOP odds have Serie A leaders AC Milan as 2.74 underdogs at home against Atalanta, who are priced at 2.35 to pick up the away win. Meanwhile, a draw is at 3.60.

But while Milan will be significantly shorthanded, don’t completely rule them out for this match. For one, they still have Zlatan, who has scored in every Serie A match he’s started this season.

And as Atalanta have shown in their last two games, they still aren’t at their very best despite playing much better in recent months.

With Zlatan back, Milan still have a decent chance at picking up another at least a draw, and possibly even a win.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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