For long stretches it looked more like a brawl than a football match, but pseudo Derbies pitting Powerhouses versus Provinces often have that air about them Italy. It's been this way as long as I can remember and this trip to hostile Atalanta was no different. The game was seemingly under control following a 29th minute goal from El Sharaawy and Atalanta's struggles getting forward, but was put a bit further out of reach when Brivio was sent off. It seemed inevitable as Atalanta was out for yellows from the outset and Biondini could have easily seen two yellows in the second half.
The bigger story was a second straight comfortable win in the 4-3-3 for Milan with a consistent winning eleven. One can't deny the difference made by Pazzini in the CF role and his intelligence and work rate to open up space for Niang and El Sharaawy. He may not score each and every time out, but he does the little things to better those around him. Holding up the ball, dragging defenders and pestering the ball. El Sharaawy was his usual dangerous self and while Atalanta didn't man-mark him as hard as other teams have in the past two weeks, he still shined. Niang struggled a bit in this one, and didn't get many favors in the form of midfield support but continues to progress nicely.
A clean sheet was also a welcomed surprise and it needs to be said that a big reason on this day was the worrkate of Flamini. Sure he missed a great chance in the middle of the second half, but by some miracle he has played two great games on the trot and coupled with moments of Boateng balance the midfield was a stone wall to Atalanta's attacks. Keeping the defense calm and allowing Montolivo to roam free, read the game and break up passes through the middle. it wasn't flawless, and sadly it may never be, but it looked solid for the first time in a long time and I can honestly this 4-3-3 didn't scare me as much as it usually does!
A one-goal win away from home, a clean sheet, and three points to leap frog up the table while others dropped points makes this an excellent result. Now we have to endure the final days of the transfer and the window and whatever grief it brings. Enjoy the win, the next few days may get hairy!