Friday December 20 2019
The new lords of Lombardy

Football Italia Chief Correspondent Richard Hall praises the progress of Atalanta and argues they are now the pride of Lombardy, surpassing Inter and Milan.

Champions League football will be played at San Siro in February after all, but it won’t be Inter or Milan standing to attention as the theme plays out. That honour goes to Lombardy’s third club, Atalanta. 

This is arguably the biggest sporting competition on the planet. The group stages offer untold wealth, but when a team makes it to the knock-out stages, the eyes of the world are well and truly on them. The draw against Valencia was perhaps one of the best they could have hoped for, so could they go even further than the Round of 16? Forget the Miracle of Castel di Sangro, who is writing this book?

The reason Atalanta’s progress has been even more stunning is that their success came from an impossible position as the odds at Betway confirmed. Due to their usual home of Azzurri d'Italia being renovated, they had to play at San Siro, just under an hour down the road. This was not an advantage as many may think, because the Cathedral of football might be impressive, but the simple fact is that Atalanta fans do not worship here. They prefer the close, confined and aggressive nature of their chapel in Bergamo. This was not home and it showed.

Inexperience more than just location saw the side from Bergamo lose their first three games. Dinamo Zagreb beat them heavily 4-0, before they lost 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk. Finally, Manchester City ripped them to pieces, beating them 5-1, and for many the dream was over as their odds of going through at Betway went through the roof. The draw against the Sky Blues in the return game seemed to condemn them, although this is where the miracle happened and two wins in their final games saw them incredibly go through. All of this has been conducted whilst they also impress in Serie A, remaining sixth, and without star striker Duvan Zapata for months.

Watching on were Inter. Barcelona and Dortmund proved difficult, but the group was lost on day one with a home draw against Slavia Prague. Antonio Conte can be happy to sit in a position where his team are challenging for the Scudetto and are among the favourites at Betway, but this simply compounds the fact that his team fell away. They may have more resources and more quality, but they are still in the process of building the unity and belief. 

These are the elements that Milan have been missing for years now and it must have been hard watching Atalanta at San Siro in the Champions League, whilst they could not even make the Europa League this term. The Rossoneri are the rich schoolboy who simply cannot be bothered, Atalanta look like the child who won a scholarship and are making the best of it.

The irony of this success is that they have done this by moving away from their normal model. Gian Piero Gasperini has been tactically brilliant and coached them in an aggressive and supremely innovative manner but they have recruited well. Normally a club to focus on their incredible youth system, they have had to fill some gaps with experience. 

Therefore, they have brought in players who may have been discarded or undervalued elsewhere and mixed this with the few youngsters who have come through. The jewel in the crown is that they have an incredible group of under-20s coming through, one of the best they have ever had, and therefore the future is also incredibly bright.

Atalanta have proven that they are the pride of Lombardy for many reasons, not just because of the Champions League, as that is simply the icing on the cake. They have a great coach undervalued elsewhere, they have a mix of youth and experience with a new generation offering much promise. They have a newly-renovated stadium, which offers their superb and loyal fans another reason to be proud. The Atalanta model works and has been building up to this for years. 

Have your say...
@TorreDG -> well said, I second that.
(from a Milan fan)
on the 27th December, 2019 at 7:34pm
Vikki you are such a bad loser.

I read on a previous post that Milan's current boss won't make it past Christmas, that looks to be wrong but if he last's past January I will be very surprised.

Milan lack leadership, focus and pride.
on the 23rd December, 2019 at 11:15pm
Viktor fanboy,
I had you particulary in mind when I wrote the post bellow.
Hope yesterday's game will shut YOU up.

I am only sorry for Chris, Maldini's Heir & some other humble/ fair/ SPORTSMEN Milan fans for having to read it.
Sorry guys.

Happy holidays to all --FI writers & fans of Serie A! (Mah, even you Viktor, why not...)
on the 23rd December, 2019 at 4:23pm
Bravo Atalanta
This is a small market team with a small budget that has competed and punched way above its weight, playing without its best player and not in their stadium.

Everyone loves an underdog and you have to wish them well.
Sometimes good coaching and playing with heart and courage can carry you far.

Bravo Atalanta, everyone loves a "Rocky" story.
on the 23rd December, 2019 at 2:59pm
I have a lot of respect for Atalanta, I visit Bergamo a lot for business. They're a humble, hard working club and they deserve to have these moments because they worked hard for it. Coming from a Milan fan.
on the 23rd December, 2019 at 1:01pm
Oh dude Richard.. you shouldn't be writing, seriously. Regardless of the point you're trying to make, which u may have, this was a terrible read. I usually only agree or disagree with authors without disrespecting anyone, bashing is not my thing, but this piece was way too cheap to ignore, truly unforgivable unless you're 6 yrs old, it literally sounds like a collection of opinions randomly put together, or written(or translated)by a computer. If this is the best you can do, please take a seat.
on the 23rd December, 2019 at 9:14am
Shut your mouth Totti fanboy!
on the 23rd December, 2019 at 7:36am
What a joke Milan are
on the 22nd December, 2019 at 2:08pm
Forza Atalanta! I live in Serbia and I am a neroazzurri (from Bergamo) supporter. I started to support Atalanta in the late eighties and I have enjoyed many victories over Juve, Inter, Milan and other teams. I hope that in the future my team will be as strong as today.
on the 21st December, 2019 at 3:11pm
Valencia was probably as good as they could have hoped for, other than maybe Leipzig.

This is because Atalanta's defence is hopeless and, theoretically at least, Valencia should be the least threat to that. They'd have been hammered by the likes of Barca, Bayern, PSG, Liverpool.

Hopefully they address this major hole in the team in January and sign a few proper CB's.

If they do, the QF is a real possibility, and who knows, even further.
on the 21st December, 2019 at 12:30am
@Gee You are definitely not the sharpest tool in the box, are you?! Practically everything said here stands 100%! Especially the comparison of Milan (whose fan I am for 25+ years) that "Rossoneri are the rich schoolboy who simply cannot be bothered, Atalanta look like the child who won a scholarship and are making the best of it." Ain't that the truth?!
I just cannot understand how come they gave up so easily from Dejan Kuluševski?! But, on the other hand, they will capitalize good on him!
on the 20th December, 2019 at 10:47pm
Whaaah, whaaahhh..!

And INTER would've also advanced if only they had easier opponents like Shakhtar & Man City --instead of Slavia & Barca B!!!
Waaahhh, Waaahhhh

Attention all ARROGANT Milan fans:
Come & cry here BEFORE Sunday's game and make it so much sweeter to watch!

You deserve this kind of treatment for bashing EVERY Serie A team that played in CL over the past 6 years!
(I hope next year you get to watch Cagliari playing there...)
on the 20th December, 2019 at 10:44pm
@Iron Lion a GREAT STORY is inter winning the treble under Mou. Something that no other Italian team has done. Atlanta is doing great and they'll be the new Ajax for this season in the CL. For them to surpass inter and Milan they should do at least the bare minimum and win something. Gasperini is at the right place in a club like Atlanta where he can afford to play creative football under not much pressure but the same can not be said for Milan and inter.
on the 20th December, 2019 at 6:31pm
Boo hoo Gee, Atalanta is a great story and the fact is the Milan teams continue to underperform in the big moments while Atalanta have no fear.
on the 20th December, 2019 at 4:59pm
Another piece of awful reporting by Football Italia.
How can Atlanta surpass Milan and Inter after how many Scudetti and Champions league wind just because Atalanta have qualified for the champions league?

What if Atalanta dont get past the next stage, then what?

What if Atalanta dont qualify for the Champions league but Inter win the Scudetto?

Have Atalanta really surpassed Milan and Inter if this happens?
on the 20th December, 2019 at 2:11pm

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