NEWS
Monday January 6 2014
Line-ups: Milan-Atalanta

Mario Balotelli and Riccardo Montolivo are out and Bryan Cristante has his first Serie A start after Max Allegri called Milan-Atalanta “a relegation dogfight.”

The Lombardy Derby kicks off at 14.00 GMT, click here for a match preview.

Incredibly, 2014 begins with only one point separating the teams and Rossoneri Coach Allegri acknowledged this was a fight to stay away from the danger zone.

Sulley Muntari is suspended after his red card in the defeat to Inter, joining the injured Stephan El Shaarawy, Valter Birsa, Ignazio Abate and Kevin Constant.

Adil Rami is on the bench for the first time, as he had been training with the squad since October, but the loan from Valencia was only completed this week.

Balotelli has been suffering from flu symptoms over the last two days, while Montolivo had a muscular problem in training.

Neither of them are fit to start, so 18-year-old Italian-Canadian Bryan Cristante plays in midfield with Robinho, Ricky Kaka and Alessandro Matri in attack.

It’s a huge chance for Cristante, who has only ever played five minutes of Serie A football in a 0-0 at Chievo in November 2013.

“Cristante is ready,” assistant manager Mauro Tassotti told Milan Channel. “We wanted to give in an opportunity in a calmer atmosphere, but we are in an emergency situation.

“Rami is a very good player who settled in well and soon he too will have his chance to step on to the field.”

Keisuke Honda is in the stands to watch his new club, as he only flew in from Japan on Saturday evening.

Atalanta conquered San Siro last season with a Luca Cigarini goal and can feel capable of another upset today.

Marko Livaja, Giampaolo Bellini, Stefano Lucchini and Lionel Scaloni are unavailable for Coach Stefano Colantuono.

Veteran Argentina hitman German Denis is the one to watch in attack with support from Maxi Moralez, while Yohan Benalouane starts after his move from Parma this week.

Milan: Abbiati; De Sciglio, Zapata, Mexes, Emanuelson; Cristante, De Jong, Nocerino; Kakà; Robinho, Matri

Milan bench: Amelia, Coppola, Zaccardo, Silvestre, Rami, Bonera, Poli, Saponara, Balotelli, Pazzini
Atalanta: Consigli; Raimondi, Stendardo, Benalouane, Brivio; Bonaventura, Cigarini, Carmona, Migliaccio; Moralez; Denis

Atalanta bench: Sportiello, Yepes, Giorgi, Baselli, Canini, Del Grosso, Cazzola, Koné, De Luca, Brienza, Livaja, Marilungo

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