Thursday September 14 2017
Amazing Atalanta

The Bergamo outfit outclassed Everton and could progress far in the Europa League, writes Nick Valerio.

The adventure continues. If last season’s quite astonishing fourth place finish hadn’t sunk in, the scale of the achievement will have come to life when Gian Piero Gasperini’s side ruthlessly took apart big-spending Everton.

In a group where Lyon are considered the favourites to qualify, both La Dea and the Toffees knew they were tussling to get a head start, and one team certainly laid down a dominant marker in what was a one-sided contest which proved Atalanta can be a real force in the Europa League.

The players will understandably get the credit, but the orchestrator Gasperini warrants every bit of praise coming his way. Football’s sacking culture has descended beyond all rationality and in an era where a Coach is under immense pressure if he doesn’t pick up an instant result, the Italian could have quite easily found himself out a job having lost four of his first five matches in charge, but President Antonio Percassi behaved in a measured manner, and this loyalty has been repaid immeasurably. Other boards should take note.

The damage was done in the first half and La Dea could not have wished for a meeker opponent. Everton were slow and ponderous, and lacked any real imagination. Ronald Koeman’s men came in to the clash off the back of consecutive defeats at the hands of Chelsea and Spurs, and the manner in which the Orobici dismissed his side was not too dissimilar. 

The difference between the Group E rivals is glaringly obvious. While Gasperini may have lost his star men to giants Milan and Inter, Koeman spent a handsome £150m in the summer, yet it was Atalanta who resembled a real team. Much like last year’s momentous Serie A campaign, La Dea were hungrier, stronger and a constant threat at set-pieces.

Quite simply, last year’s surprise package did not allow the Blues to play and if the likes of Wayne Rooney and record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson thought they could forget their domestic troubles, they were sadly mistaken.

The inexperienced Dominic Calvert-Lewin ploughed a lone furrow and will have looked on in envy at the opposing end of the pitch, as Andrea Petagna caused chaos throughout, all while bringing his teammates in to play. The pace and fluidity on display would have been a welcome sight for the avid calcio fan.

The Orobici were more aggressive and looked at complete ease on the European stage, something which should resonate with Gasperini, as his spell at Inter in 2011 essentially ended following a defeat in the Champions League. The Italian has come full circle and deserves another opportunity to pit his wits against sides on the continent.

Atalanta now sit in the driving seat. Sure, the Nerazzurri will face far sterner tests in Europe this season, but many of the sides in the tournament are of a similar standing, and there won’t be many who will want to face Gasperini’s dark horses. 

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Have your say...
Atalanta could progress far in the EL? Are you on some sort of substance? It would be a huge achievement if they even made it out of the group which I think it will be hard. They have to prioritize Serie A safety over the EL. You guys are getting too ahead of yourselves.
on the 17th September, 2017 at 10:24pm
I have been waiting for ESPN FC to do a segment on this match, and they did one for every epl team in Europe except the Everton Unbelievable the lengths they go to , in order to protect their BS partner.
on the 16th September, 2017 at 6:08pm
We should all applaud of the few serie a clubs promoting Italain youth and one of the most innovative youth academies in Europe.
Low on budget but high on passion and intelligence!
on the 16th September, 2017 at 2:33am
@Theo France also have 1 side doing reasonably (worse than Juve still) well bar Monaco having such a great year last time and German sides have been no better than Italian sides bar Munich in recent years. But once again it is only Serie A getting criticism.
on the 15th September, 2017 at 8:11pm
Said it before and I'll say it again. Europa league is Italy's level at the moment and it is ridiculous that the corrupt UEFA officials have gifted Italy 4 Champions League places it will waste on humiliating losses over and over until they drop to fifth.
on the 15th September, 2017 at 4:22pm
@Rosario you are giving English tabloid fans too much credit they probably couldn't pick bergamo out world map and that is if they guess it is in italy. Still there is a hardcore group of serie a fans left over from the days of gazzetta football italia on channel 4 they would have fully expected atalanta to be extremely competitive especially seeing everton weakened lineup. I agree the majority of sports journalism in the UK is crap not worth the paper it is written on.
on the 15th September, 2017 at 2:39pm
Here's hoping Atalanta make the top 4 again at the expense of garbage like Napoli and Roma. I'm sure they'll not embarrass themselves and Serie A in the CL next season like those two teams always do.
on the 15th September, 2017 at 1:46pm
The head-2-head between Serie A and epl is pretty one-sided in Italy's favour over the last 5 or 6 years.

So if any tool tries to tell you epl dominates Serie A, tell them that :)
on the 15th September, 2017 at 1:28pm
In the UK, all of the news outlets in addition to fans are so ignorant of football outside of England it is all quite comical. Most seem to think that Bergamo is some farm in the foothills of the alps with a semi pro football team, who spend the rest of their day milking the cows. Instead of actually appreciating just how good Atalanta were, the concentration has been more on everton somehow lowering their level, allowing for such a defeat. Playing in Sassuolo makes this result even more amazing
on the 15th September, 2017 at 11:22am
Pleased for Atalanta and Gaspa!!! Never given a fair chance at Inter from day one...
on the 15th September, 2017 at 9:17am
Nice to see Italian teams actually do well in Europe for a change even if it is the mickey mouse cup of Europe.The reality is are only chance of doing well in the CL will be with Juve once more because Roma and Napoli will do well to just get through the group stage.
on the 15th September, 2017 at 9:04am
At least in the europa league Italian clubs have done well in the first round. I think everton underestimated atalanta they certainly put out a weakened team. Everton should have shown more respect to their opponent there is a reason why atalanta are in the europa league despite obvious financial disparities. Not to take anything away from atalanta they were suburb they potentially could have been a bigger winning margin.
on the 15th September, 2017 at 8:09am

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