Sunday May 12 2019
Can anyone stop Atalanta?

Atalanta take another giant leap towards Champions League football, writes Sam Wilson, but Milan and Lazio hang in there.

Gian Piero Gasperini deserves enormous praise for his work with Atalanta this season. With a modest squad and an even more modest budget, Gasperini has guided the team to the gates of the Champions League. With just two games for the Bergamo side left to play after Saturday, a win against Genoa was essential to keep up the pressure on the likes of Inter and Roma, both of whom have yet to play this round.

Arguably, no team is more deserving in Serie A of Champions League football than Atalanta this season. The club lead the division’s goal scoring charts with 73 goals so far and this attractive, attacking football has turned the heads of many football fans across Europe, all of whom will be curious about the prospect of Gasperini’s side in Europe’s most illustrious club competition next season.

Now is not the time for the side to slack, however, as they need just four points to be sure, but with a tricky tie away at Scudetto winners Juventus and a Coppa Italia Final against Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio to contest at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.

Atalanta have met Juve twice already this term and both times suggested Gasperini’s style has the better of Max Allegri. Only Cristiano Ronaldo’s determination got 10-man Juve a point in Serie A, while the Bianconeri were demolished 3-0 in the Coppa Italia, but both those encounters were in Bergamo.

In many ways, Lazio and Milan have had similar seasons. Despite being in different races at this stage of the campaign, Lazio in the hunt for Europa League whilst the Rossoneri are aiming for the Champions League, both have had strong patches of form combined with disappointing dips in quality, injury problems and disappointing continental performances. That being said, both teams came into this weekend with just two wins from their last four league games, but did not let their travelling fans down.

For Milan, a 1-0 win away to Fiorentina was enough to secure a vital three points, keeping their first clean sheet away from home since Genoa on January 21. It’s a positive result which will boost the team heading into the final two games of the season against Frosinone and SPAL, both of which the Rossoneri will be favourites to win. Milan sit just a point behind Inter and with their fierce rivals and the Champions League in sight, Gattuso will have to ensure that his team deliver.

Lazio’s victory puts them within a point of city rivals, Roma, ahead of the Giallorossi hosting Juventus. However, with the Champions League all but out of sight after the disappointing defeat to Atalanta last week, it would have been easy for Simone Inzaghi’s side to slump and struggle against a plucky Cagliari. Goals from Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa soon put minds at ease though, despite a late trademark header from Cagliari’s Leonardo Pavoletti.

On Wednesday, Lazio must face Atalanta in the Coppa Italia Final in their own stadium in Rome. Lazio can qualify for the Europa League group stage by winning the tie, but Atalanta will be up for winning just their second ever domestic cup and their first since the 1962-63 season.

If Gasperini really does manage to balance a tricky fixture list, Coppa Italia triumph and fourth place, nobody can take that Coach of the Season award from his grasp.

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Have your say...
I think i have the answer maldini heir.climate change. The air quality is diffrent in Milan thats why ALL these superstars are now average I mean clubs far and wide were queing for Piatik, Suso and the free kick guy before Milan brought them i mean Milan are fighting teams away from these 'superstars'. You are saying the same thing you did in the previous 5 articles.
These players are average and we lack playmakers players who create things and a world class player to bring things together.
on the 14th May, 2019 at 10:44pm

True about Spurs but they had a good run in to make the final without playing
Barca, Real, PSG, Bayern, Atletico, Juve, sure they played Man City who on their day can beat anyone but it was an all-english tie and winnable for Spurs with new stadium buzz and a tired Man City going for the Quadruple.

And Milan's recent past in CL is shocking (Belusconi/Galliani days) but they never had a capable management like they do now i.e. owners, Maldini, Leonardo (apart from a few dodgy signings)
on the 13th May, 2019 at 1:02pm

"Italy don’t deserve 4 teams in CL..2 seems more realistic in terms of challenging teams."

Lets make it one team instead shall we? Gtfo
on the 13th May, 2019 at 8:50am
superior. If Serie A teams are struggling in Europe and if players who have done well in other leagues struggle in Serie A that does not tell me that we're tactically superior. It tells me we're tactically too rigid and backwards and need to learn from Spain, England, Germany and Holland. Money has got nothing to do with it. Unless there's something different in the water, there's no reason why Italy cannot produce the same quality players as Spain. Gasperini has done wonders for the league.
on the 13th May, 2019 at 8:06am
@ Babbata-Boopity I wouldn't mind if Gattuso stepped down at the end of the season. I just don't want Milan to be the club that fires their coach for achieving his objectives. And I hate all of this nonsense about quality. We're talking about the top 1% of footballers on the planet. I agree with Mancini's recent comments about the differences in English football. Many Premier managers might not have lasted in Italy. we also need to move on from the notion that somehow Serie A is tactically
on the 13th May, 2019 at 8:02am
@Maldinis heir I doubt Gattuso wants to stay on as coach. I think he’ll be glad to step down after season. He looks the type to have a heart attack in 50s, and looks spent.
rather have Atalanta get the excitement and experience of CL over the 3 other clubs. But Inter could just as easily miss out too opening door for Roma or Milan.
Bottom line is Italian clubs have to do better in Europe. In all actuality Italy don’t deserve 4 teams in CL..2 seems more realistic in terms of challenging teams.
on the 13th May, 2019 at 3:15am
went Milan's way. Again without last minute goals from Romagnoli against Genoa and Udinese it might have been different again. Who knows? But to confidently write off an entire squad of players - many of whom performed at far higher levels at previous clubs - is just ridiculous. And it's a problem that persists in modern football where clubs look to solve their problems on the transfer market. We need to work with what we have until we make it work. It's a lesson we could all learn from Atalanta
on the 13th May, 2019 at 1:14am
incidents. A decision here, a miss there, a mistake over there. We're talking inches not miles. Had Romagnoli not made a mistake against Empoli in week 6 that would've been an extra 2 points. Had Higuain not missed the penalty against Juve that might've been an extra point. Had Cutrone's shot not been cleared off the line against Inter - another point. Had Donnarumma not made the mistake against Sampdoria maybe Milan would not have collapsed in the last few games. Equally there are things that
on the 13th May, 2019 at 1:11am
is not the right manager. Gattuso could be the next Ferguson for all we know. Ferguson was about to be sacked by Man Utd in 1991 had he lost a FA Cup match after a run of 8 games without a win. He managed to cling on and the rest is history. For all we know, if Gattuso does cling on to fourth then the rest might turn out to be history. Gattuso is not my ideal style of manager but one thing about his time in charge is that Milan have rarely been played off the park. This season has come down to
on the 13th May, 2019 at 1:06am
The fact is Milan could swap their entire starting 11 with Atalanta's and possibly even the manager and the results would be completely different. Gasperini has done incredible things with Atalanta and was a failure at Inter. Why? Who knows? It's not that simple. It's not a case of this player being average and that player being superhuman. If Milan had the right manager we could see the exact same players we have now performing at a completely different level. And I'm not even saying Gattuso
on the 13th May, 2019 at 1:02am
I do love how everyone can state so confidently that Milan "lack quality". Would anyone seriously swap the Milan starting 11 for the Atalanta's? Let's see: Gollini for Donnarumma? Palomino for Romagnoli? Gosens for Rodriguez? De Roon for Kessie? Zapata for Piątek? In fact Milan did sign a load of former Atalanta superstars and, remarkably, they didn't manage to reach the same levels. Same with the Juve contingent that Milan signed. Same with every player Milan have signed.
on the 13th May, 2019 at 12:59am

Milan's winning DNA is long gone. It's about having the best run club,best attitude, best/better players. Spurs have no DNA, but are in the final because of the above

Atalanta did well in the EL the year before with a very tough run of games. Milan got knocked out of a group containing Olympiakos and a team of electricians. The Milan's have been a disaster in Europe for ages. Time for another team

Like I said, how many CL knockout games have Milan won in their last 16 attempts?
on the 13th May, 2019 at 12:14am
You need to consider the situation Atalanta always have found themselves in. Always outside of top 4. Selling and rebuilding teams every single year. They crashed out of europe this year very early. But keep in mind they started the entire season very poorly, having set together a new side after selling Caldara etc. This is every year. Once Atalanta start clicking they can overcome anyone on a good day. With a top 4 and CL,maybe they can build on what they already have.
on the 12th May, 2019 at 10:47pm

Milan has no quality? lololol GTFO troll
on the 12th May, 2019 at 10:45pm
Anonymous11 "Crack pipe" - can't even take you seriously with that comment. If this was a face to face conversation you wouldn't say that, but I guess having a cloak of anonymity makes you fearless lol

Roma might be a selling club and Milan might lack quality BUT they still contain key players for the Azzurri moving forwards, so unless you don't support Italy you might need to reassess where your loyalty is.
on the 12th May, 2019 at 9:54pm

And Juve play terrible football BUT that isn't what this post is about - it's about who gets the last CL spot. Ideally even Inter wouldn't get third place, at least Milan and Roma support Italian players.

You're forgetting how excited everyone was with Atalanta in the Europa league, only to get dumped out in the playoffs by Copenhagen. They're going straight out in the CL (if they make it) thankfully there aren't any playoffs anymore because they'd struggle to even make the group stage.
on the 12th May, 2019 at 9:40pm
It's not about Juve it's about preference for 4th.

Atalanta have no Italians obviously you don't care about the national team.

I said "The only good thing about Atalanta is Gasperini" hence his style of football.

And its not ancient history - Liverpool are similar to Milan, rewind a few seasons they weren't even in the Champions League but with their tradition they have made two finals in a row. If Milan make the CL, they can do they same, with the right man in charge as - it's in their DNA.
on the 12th May, 2019 at 9:27pm
"Much rather Milan or Roma with the young Italians they have and their ability to actually compete in CL" lol, Put down your crack pipe and wake up. Roma is a selling team and Milan have no quality.
on the 12th May, 2019 at 5:42pm

Atalanta have a fraction of the budget of Milan/Roma, and play far better football with far less fear. So they deserve to be there more than either of the other two

Fearless football is the current trend, not hiding away like Juve and the Milan's do. Atalanta would be a breath of fresh over the dire football the other 3 are offering

And as for Milan's "ability to compete" in the CL...since when? Ancient history.

How many CL knockout games have they won from their last 16 games?
on the 12th May, 2019 at 4:34pm
I am a Milan fan, but id rather see Atalanta in the CL over Milan. Atalanta are simply the better outfit and positive image for italy to send. With a CL spot they for the first time wont need to sell players, and can build upon what they have.

Ofc hopefully milan and atalanta get it over inter but...
on the 12th May, 2019 at 1:52pm
They looked to have it wrapped up after yesterday's win, but the Milan win in Florence has pegged them back. Their inferior head-2-head v Milan means they still need 4 points with a trip to Turin to come.
on the 12th May, 2019 at 12:29pm
I hope we (Juve) can in the next game - Atalanta have no starting Italians under the age of 34 (Mancini doesn't start - he's rotated all time)...

If they finish fourth they'll only go straight out of their CL group - essentially meaning only 3 Italian teams would qualify for next season.

Much rather Milan or Roma with the young Italians they have and their ability to actually compete in CL, whether based on recent performances or historical.

The only good thing about Atalanta is Gasperini.
on the 12th May, 2019 at 12:27pm

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