Wednesday November 20 2019
Atalanta can do it all again

There is no reason why Atalanta can’t repeat their heroics of last season and enter the Champions League again, writes Vijay Rahaman.

While their initial impact with the Champions League has been rough, Atalanta are still very much in the hunt for a return to Europe's most prestigious competition for next year.

Currently, the Bergamaschi are just a couple points off fourth, tied with Roma. They have struggled in recent games, with just a single victory achieved in their last five encounters, including a shock home loss to surprise package Cagliari. However, on a positive note, they have continued their free-scoring form and, just as they were last year, they are the leading scorers in Serie A with 30 strikes.

When the club qualified for the competition, there was a fear among a number in Calcio circles that their team would be ripped apart by the bigger clubs, looking to take advantage of the Orobici's limited resources. That failed to materialise, as they not only held on to their top talent, but added to it, with the likes of Luis Muriel and Ruslan Malinovskyi. Both players have already made an immediate impact at the new Gewiss Stadium.

Muriel has already amassed eight goals to his name, while Malinovskyi has impressed so much, that the Ukrainian has attracted massive interest from clubs around Europe. The club's sporting director Giovanni Sartori continues to keep making the most of the resources at his disposal.

The season is currently intriguingly poised, especially as those top four spots are concerned. It can be safe to say that right now Juventus and Inter are above the rest of the league, as the Derby d'Italia rivals are neck and neck in the fight for the Scudetto, with the chasing pack a fair distance away and all jammed together.

There are only 12 points separating Atalanta in fourth and Bologna in 15th, so they need to be wary of their position in the table even at this relatively early stage of the season. A few poor results here or there could severely affect their Champions League ambitions. Given their recent poor form, they need to not only "play our style of football," as coach Gian Piero Gasperini continues to promote, but find a way to get results.

An aspect that can be pointed to for their drop in form is the absence of star striker Duvan Zapata. The Colombian started off the season like a freight train, racking up six goals in the first seven Serie A matches, but suffered a thigh injury while on duty with his nation in a friendly versus Chile. There is good news, as the 28-year old is expected to be back this weekend and they will need him as well.

Atalanta host defending champions Juventus to open the round and there can be no better signal of intent that their top four charge is well and truly on than defeating the Bianconeri. Last year, they played La Vecchia Signora three times and went unbeaten, as they drew both games in the league, while knocking them out in the Coppa Italia with a commanding 3-0 win, making it all the way to the final for the first time since 1996.

Following that clash this coming Saturday, they have a relatively manageable series of games to end 2019, with Brescia, Verona, Bologna and Milan on the horizon. All of these matches are very winnable for the club who hail from the city of well know composer Gaetano Donizetti. They will be looking to create their own tune, while trying to create history again for the Nerazzurri.

The important aspect of this version of Atalanta, which is something a lot of ‘bigger clubs’ can learn from, is that they have an identity. Gasp has his team playing in a fluid and free-flowing 3-4-1-2 system that always harasses the opponents with pressing, quick passing and movement off the ball. This style of play is still somewhat foreign to many teams in Italian football and no matter what player is placed in any particular position, the identity remains the same.

It won't be easy and there are many teams gunning for what Atalanta achieved last year, but given their transfer strategy, stability gained through several years of growth and improvement, there is no reason why they can't make the top four again. 

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Have your say...
Atalanta are a true inspiration to any genuine football fan. Or for that matter anyone interested in human achievement. Gasperini has a strategy an aggressive plan and an ego to carry through with it. This is what any individual requires to succeed. And with a very modest budget it demonstrates just what can be achieved despite a relatively unfavourable resource endowment.
on the 1st December, 2019 at 4:22am
I wouldn't mind them playing in the Chapions league only if they spend some money once there or do an Ajax meaning build an epic team through their academy, otherwise its an embarrassment for serie a.
on the 23rd November, 2019 at 5:21pm
How do you think the ref will help Juve vs Atalanta, if they should need help? We will see tomorrow.
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 6:08pm
Champions league? again? So they can get humiliated again?
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 3:33am
@Anon, ARD, Sten lol! So Atalanta should never play in the UCL again just because they have had a poor showing in their FIRST EVER season in the competition?? You are forgetting that they don't have the same resources as the big clubs and that they haven't been playing at home.

The big Italian sides have had embarrassing seasons in the UCL, exiting in the 1st round, did you hold them to the same standard? Your foolish comments here are undoubtedly even worse than Atalanta's UCL campaign.
on the 22nd November, 2019 at 12:05am
Don't understand why they have done so badly in CL, apart from Man C, they should have done a lot better against the the other two teams,solely because Seria a
is much stronger league and Atlanta came 3rd dam it.
So why are they making it look that they are playing against suoer human teams, Shakter would struggle to get top 6 in Seria a
on the 21st November, 2019 at 8:41pm
NO !!!

just stay in middle table and do nothing!!!
sell your players to big teams and just stay there,
leave UCL to Juventus, Inter, Roma and Napoli/lazio

that's it!
You are ruining the balance of serie-A.
Small team should just stay small
on the 21st November, 2019 at 5:26am
and than get trashed again in the champions league, no thanks.
on the 20th November, 2019 at 10:45pm
Well they really shouldnt considering how badly they are playing in CL
on the 20th November, 2019 at 4:53pm

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