Friday April 26 2019
Atalanta a little Ajax imitation

It’d be reductive to call Atalanta’s run to the Coppa Italia Final a dream, as Giancarlo Rinaldi praises the planning behind the Bergamo project.

In the end, planning matters - who would have thought? The Atalanta project was way too much for a Fiorentina side that seems to revolutionise itself once or twice a season. The Bergamaschi - streets ahead of the Viola in Serie A - were also clearly in advance in the cup. Nobody should doubt they go to the Final with Lazio as anything other than serious contenders to lift the trophy.

That they used an old discarded Florentine weapon to dispense this defeat was only the more painful for those of a Tuscan persuasion. Josip Ilicic was more frustrating than thrilling in his time at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, but he has been a man transformed in his new home.

His cool conversion of a penalty was a hugely significant moment against a side where he seemed to send many more opportunities over the bar than into the net. A little faith and understanding can go a long way.

Indeed, that might be the lesson that La Dea has delivered to the whole of Serie A - not just Vincenzo Montella’s side. If you believe in what you are doing - and pursue it with determination and conviction - it is amazing what you can achieve.

There would be a case to say that Gian Piero Gasperini’s team has been second only to Juventus - domestically at least - in terms of delivering the goods this year. They might even wonder what they might have done had Ilicic not been out so long at the start of the campaign. A Champions League spot is certainly not out of the question.

This is a unit and team that, when it is on song, is hard for anyone to deal with. Papu Gomez is a livewire competitor who springs up all over the pitch and teams up beautifully with the long-legged Slovenian, but the whole team is what works so wonderfully well. They get in your face, set the tempo and never let it go. There is something for much of Calcio to learn in there. It is not Ajax, perhaps, but it’s not a bad imitation.

The Viola had their moments over two pulsating legs, but were always held just at a distance. Perhaps if Jordan Veretout had converted his chance to make it 2-0 in the second leg, the story might have been different. Maybe if Gomez hadn’t won a penalty so soon after and possibly if Alban Lafont hadn’t thrown one into his net, the direction of these matches might have changed. They were hugely entertaining, but the overall feeling was that the side with a more coherent gameplan and the club with better long-term vision won.

You only have to think of Mario Pasalic to see the evidence of that. He was long linked with Fiorentina before making the move to Atalanta and he will surely have little regret. One option would have left him languishing at a club where the split between fans and owners grows bigger every day. The other has put him into a set-up which is one of the most exciting in Italy at the moment. You must be feeling super, Mario.

At least the game was an antidote to the grim match and even worse incidents of racism in the earlier Coppa Italia semi-final. Nine goals over the two legs provided fantastic entertainment for the neutral and a tonic for Calcio. For once we were largely able to talk about sport rather than matters of more grave concern.

Atalanta head to a Final against Lazio without fear and with more than credible hopes of adding to the previous domestic cup win achieved a couple of generations ago.

It would be easy to call it a dream, but that really doesn’t do it justice. This has been mapped out, thought out and delivered with impressive attention to detail and no little stylish football. It deserves to bring a trophy, although their Roman rivals for silverware might yet have something to say about that.

Have your say...

If you think a fine (1 euro or 1 million euro)or a halting of the league will stop those morons from being racist, you're living in la-la land. The fools that are shouting abuse couldn't care less whether the game is stopped/stands closed/clubs fined. Why would they?

The only way to get rid of them is to have undercover "fans" recording what they say/do. Once identified, they should be banned for good. If fans know they're being monitored, they'll soon change their idiotic ways
on the 27th April, 2019 at 1:27am
Atalanta is an exciting team. It would be nice if they had a few more Italians playing for them though.
on the 26th April, 2019 at 11:32pm
Two things:
1 They attack and play enchanting pacy football.
2 They soon have their own stadium.
Great future.
on the 26th April, 2019 at 9:44pm
Atalanta is such an exciting team to watch this season, kudos to Gasperini for his high pressing game . They took so many big teams to the sword this seaso and I hope they win the cup come 15th of May for the wonderful season they've had.
on the 26th April, 2019 at 5:58pm
"It is not Ajax, but it’s not a bad imitation."

An entire blog of written to squeeze this sentence in - Hilarious.

While it's a well-known issue that Calcio is going back to the dark ages with losers like Allegri, nothing will change because of the attitude Italians have towards Calcio.

Look at that incident involving Lazio Ultras. The banner honouring Mussolini, continual racial abuse of black players. Lega Serie A should have suspended Lazio and fined them 1m. Sadly, nothing will happen.
on the 26th April, 2019 at 6:11am

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