stats14 May 2022

AC MILAN v ATALANTA: DUELS

The big battles coming up on Sunday

A huge end-of-season battle awaits. In AC Milan v Atalanta, the Rossoneri will need to remain fully focused throughout to get what they want. The visitors, meanwhile, have their own objective to achieve. Here are the main duels that are expected to take place during the upcoming matchday 37 showdown in Serie A, which will kick off at 18:00 CEST on Sunday 15 May at San Siro.

RAFAEL LEÃO v LUIS MURIEL
Talented rarities. Two attacking players with similar characteristics and numbers: they’re leading the way in their respective teams in terms of assists (six for Leão, eight for Muriel) and attempted dribbles (153 compared to 99). The Portuguese is also the player who has had the most shots (41) after dribbling with the ball; five of his ten Serie A goals this campaign (he’s the Rossoneri’s top goalscorer) have been scored in this manner. The Colombian, meanwhile, has been involved in eight goals in his last four league appearances. Although he’s likely to start, he’s close to becoming the player with the most substitute goals to his name since the start of the three-points-per-win era. Blessed with technical ability and pace, both are unpredictable and love having space to run into. A quality piece of play is never far away with these two, who are precious resources for their teammates and constant thorns in the sides of their opponents.

FRANCK KESSIE v MARIO PAŠALIĆ
Up against their former sides. Kessie made his Serie A debut and scored his first goals in the Italian top flight while on Atalanta’s books in 2016/17. As for Pašalić, he did the same but for AC Milan that season, even converting the penalty that secured victory in the Supercoppa Italiana. Having swapped shirts, they’ve inflicted damage on their former employers in recent times: Franck has scored three goals against Atalanta in Serie A, while Mario has found the net twice and also provided an assist against the Rossoneri. Both are happy to play in the attacking midfield role behind the striker, even if they do things differently. The hard-working Ivorian, who has played 37 games in all competitions this season, hasn’t, however, scored since his brace against Empoli. The Croat, meanwhile, is the Atalanta player who has made the most league appearances (35) and bagged the most goals (13) this season. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that he’s netted in each of his team’s last four Serie A games.

MIKE MAIGNAN v JUAN MUSSO
From Sampdoria to Fiorentina: AC Milan have recorded seven 1-0 victories and kept a total of 16 clean sheets this season (eight in their last twelve matches). Credit for this needs to go to the whole group, the defence - the best in Serie A (along with Inter and Napoli) - and, to a large extent, Maignan. Against the Viola, the Frenchman pulled off a word-class stop, thus keeping the score level and allowing the Diavolo to go on and win it. Out of the goalkeepers who have made at least ten appearances this season, Mike has the highest save percentage in the Top 5 European leagues (78.4%). He’s a leader and a master of his profession despite only being 26 years old. Talking of young experts, Musso has made his mark in his first season in Bergamo. He’s kept twelve clean sheets in all competitions and consistently performed at a high level. These two shot-stoppers really could be decisive on Sunday.

SANDRO TONALI v REMO FREULER
They have one, perhaps surprising, fact in common: they’re leading the way in terms of passes in the opposition half of the pitch (731 for Tonali, 995 for Freuler). Both are tasked with being driving forces in midfield, using their heads and giving absolutely everything in the process. Sandro has been an inspirational figure for the Diavolo, producing performances of real substance. After scoring the winner against Lazio, he bagged a crucial brace against Verona, thus becoming the youngest midfielder to have netted at least five goals this Serie A campaign. Sandro and Remo, who has been a key figure for Gasperini since 2016, are now ready to do battle again after previously coming up against each other in the reverse fixture, when Tonali won the ball back high up the pitch and made it 2-0 to AC Milan.


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