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Monday April 8 2019
The impossible Atalanta dream

Football Italia’s Chief Correspondent Richard Hall looks at Atalanta’s impressive form and asks, can they seriously qualify for the Champions League?

The moment the final whistle blew in San Siro, was the moment that Atalanta’s impossible dream suddenly looked real. The 0-0 draw with Inter had been less than inspiring, but the point was enough to take them into joint fourth spot. Now, the Champions League seemed possible, especially as the other contenders all conspired to slip up. There are certainly still some hurdles to jump before the finishing post looms, but their destiny is now largely in their own hands.

Just how big an achievement getting Atalanta to the Champions League would be is something Gian Piero Gasperini doesn’t want to contemplate right now, but he may soon have to. “We need a few more weekends before we can start to believe,” the Coach said after their resolute performance against Inter, achieved even without star striker Duvan Zapata.

The game itself showcased just how well Gasperini has done this term, as he approached the fixture with exactly the correct approach. In the corresponding game, he had attacked Inter with pace from the off and the hostile crowd in Bergamo helped push his team on to demolish the Nerazzurri 4-1.

This time it was a different scenario, as a resurgent Milanese team were viewed as a threat, especially as the visitors were without Duvan Zapata. The Coach’s defensive approach worked, and the point sees them face a tough shoot out with Roma, Milan, Lazio and Torino, who are all separated by three points.

Atalanta captain Papu Gomez is certainly not holding back, pointing out that although the objective is the Europa League, why not aim higher? Milan had fallen to Juventus the night before and Lazio and Torino had both drawn their games. Only Roma had managed to take all three points against Sampdoria, but their recent form, like that of Milan, offers up more questions than answers.

When looking at the upcoming fixtures for Le Dea, there again is reason to be cheerful. Whilst it is true, they still have Napoli and Juventus to come, it is almost certain that ‘The Old Lady’ will have sewn up the league title by then and whilst the Partenopei look to have almost guaranteed second place, they are also in poor form.

The rest of the games are winnable for Gasperini’s men, as they will face relegation threatened Empoli and Udinese whilst also taking on Genoa and Sassuolo on the final day. Perhaps the biggest task will be facing Lazio on May 5, a game that could have a monumental effect on where the final Champions League place goes.

With the return of their hitman, they will certainly be a match for anyone, as Duvan Zapata’s superb season has given them a potent edge that has seen Bergamo become a fortress. The team are of course still in the Coppa Italia and have a good chance of making the Final after drawing the first leg 3-3 with Fiorentina. If they can make the Final in Rome against Milan or Lazio, then this could top off what has been a fantastic campaign.

What may have seemed like an impossible dream is becoming a reality for Gasperini and could eventually see the question asked, just how big an achievement is it if Le Dea qualify for Europe’s elite competition? Just how that will affect them in the summer will also be a problem, as many clubs will be circling around the talented squad and the Coach himself, but that’s not a worry for now. Instead the remaining months of the season will be watched with interest as this attacking and exciting team verge on embarrassing Serie A’s bigger boys.

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Have your say...
I'll cheering for Atalanta. They came fourth two years ago and were so unlucky not to advance to the CL when Italy were reduced to only three qualifiers. This could be payback and I hope they make it.
on the 9th April, 2019 at 2:56pm
in gasperini & team u must believe. atlanta's form is so perfect for serie a and italian football in general. it would be great to see atlanta invest a bit more on some quality players then perhaps to witness them win serie a for a change. juventus keep winning scudetto is no fun! it is boring! it is like copy paste of each year! i like to see change, hopefully. bravo gasperini bravo atalanta
on the 9th April, 2019 at 1:07pm
@ BRUNO

If the Milan's finish 3rd/4th, they deserve it. However, they did it spending far more for similar points. That means Atalanta push themselves as individuals and a team far more than over-hyped Milanese

The delusion I'm referring to is the "Serie A needs the Milan teams in Europe" I hear a lot when Roma or Napoli get knocked out

Milan have 2 CL K/O wins in their last 16, and Inter have been poor since 2010. So this idea of Italy "needing" them is false.This season proved it yet again
on the 9th April, 2019 at 10:04am
are set to win an embarrassing 8th title in a row. Because the other teams are floundering. They cannot even put a decent run together to finish fourth with each side seemingly tripping over each other as Juve tie up the title in April. The other teams should be ashamed of themselves. And does anyone think Juve won't win the title next season? I mean it's a race for 2nd isn't it? Juve may as well take a break for a year. Thank you Atalanta for giving Serie A some much needed joy.
on the 9th April, 2019 at 12:59am
Imagine if Milan or Inter or Roma played like Atalanta?

Milan, Inter and Roma have better squads than Atalanta but play at a lower level. Milan are of course the best example given that we signed Atalanta's best players who remarkably could not perform at the same level for Milan. The fact is none of these clubs are getting the best out of their players. The play is lethargic, uninspired and strained. In contrast Atalanta play with freedom, dynamism and, above all, pace. This is the reason Juve
on the 9th April, 2019 at 12:56am
Atalanta going to CL means they will keep their stars which would only result in weakening the league even more. juve got enough money to buy who they want but Inter and Milan need cheaper players who are proven in Serie A.not to bet on likes of Malcom and Dalbert.so it would be better for Serie A if Roma Lazio and Atalanta don't qualify for CL and "hopefully" get forced to sell to Serie A sides to make top four a real TOP FOUR.not the usual booked 1st and 2nd place and top mediocre 6 to follow
on the 9th April, 2019 at 12:42am
@FERBAN

I don't quite understand how Milan and Inter fans are considered to be delusional for believing that their respective teams belong in the Champions League when both teams have done more than Atalanta, Lazio, Roma, and Torino throughout the season so far. There's a reason why both Milan teams are above the other teams I mentioned.
on the 8th April, 2019 at 8:31pm
@FERBAN

If the two Milan sides qualify to the Champions League is because they deserve it. Whoever finishes 3rd & 4th will deserve that spot. For now, both Inter and Milan are deserving of their respective spots since they have received more points due to their performances, or (in Milan's case) win the tie against a direct rival. So if Milan and Inter both qualify, it will be because they belong in the Champions League.
on the 8th April, 2019 at 8:28pm
@Sadde


Bahhaha Roma... bahgaha
on the 8th April, 2019 at 7:49pm
Let’s be honest everyone here. 4th place was romas and they deserve more than anyone else. I can see them getting it. One can dream;)
on the 8th April, 2019 at 6:39pm
It's disappointing that Atalanta has gone from a hotbed of young Italian talent to barely any Italians in their starting lineup.
on the 8th April, 2019 at 5:21pm
They could have a decent run in the CL if they don't sell anyone. If they do, then it'd be better if they don't qualify.

They did quite well in the EL a few years ago despite a tough run of games too.

The 2 Milan's may be able to hold onto their top players better than Atalanta can, but they certainly don't "belong" in the CL like some delusional fans seem to think.

Atalanta would also have the advantage of being underestimated. One problem, though, is they'd probably go in as 4th seeds
on the 8th April, 2019 at 11:51am
Lets be honest @FCK

If anyone deserves the 4th at this point it's Milan. Not sure how many points we been robbed this season.
on the 8th April, 2019 at 11:34am
Gasperini is a very good coach, and the squad is full of talent, but I have doubts whether they are ready for CL football. While they are a prolific side, they have choked before and paid the price, especially with a defense more comfortable at contributing goals than preventing them. This should be a focus for the summer market window in any case. If they do reach CL, I think they'll be more motivated and won't repeat the humiliating exit against Copenhagen.
on the 8th April, 2019 at 10:27am

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