Any military unit, sports team, business unit or simply a group operates better, when there is a utilitarian aspect to them. When the greatest good for the greatest number is primary and the individual is not put first. This is what has happened in Bergamo, there are no Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s here. What’s more, that connectivity that has now reached the fans and turned what was already a hostile and passionate group, into the beating heart of Bergamo. They now work with the team, encourage and believe in them. Nobody wants to play Atalanta right now.
There is no denying that the same revolution is going on at Inter. They may arguably be behind La Dea in their progress, but their resources mean that they top the league. After trouncing Napoli, they are confident and the form and partnership of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, coupled with the belief in the team, has many pegging them as the next Champions of Italy.
After saying all this, they will be very conscious that they are welcoming Atalanta to San Siro this weekend and football betting reflects this is probably one of the last teams they would want to face.
One major factor the Nerazzurri will be scared of is their recent form. They demolished Milan before the Christmas break in a whopping 5-0 win. This was followed up after the festive period with a 5-0 mauling of Parma by the same score-line. They are flying and have won four out of their last five league games. The only slip-up was a close encounter with Bologna, which came during the hangover period of their Champions League triumph in Ukraine.
There is no single individual who is out-performing another, there are so many heroes in this campaign and this is the reason they sit in fourth spot.
Atalanta are now quite adept at playing at San Siro and it represents their second home. This is the host venue for all their Champions League home games and will welcome Valencia next month for the Round of 16. This ground may be a fantastic setting, but it took them some time to settle.
There are so many who deserve praise for this continual success. Gian Piero Gasperini has allowed them to embark on a way of playing that is attractive, inclusive of all the squad and the fans love it. He has (as Jurgen Klopp has at Liverpool), connected the city, the fans and the club. The entire city believes in the direction and this is more impressive than you think.
Gasp has an axe to grind with Inter, but he'll have a wry smile to himself noticing that he was sacked after just six games with the excuse this club didn't play with three at the back, only to now find them succeeding with Conte in charge. His triumphs at Atalanta shows just what can be achieved if there is real synergy between club and coach.
Atalanta’s culture is to nurture youth, but a bad couple of harvests meant that the board and President Antonio Percassi have had to make some shrewd moves in the market to ensure that they can compete before they can blood some of the outstanding under 19/20s that are coming through. The sale of Dejan Kulusevski to Juventus for €35m plus up to €9m in bonuses was a superb move. The youngster is on loan at Parma and therefore has not had any chance to influence the current team. They have gathered cash flow without rocking the boat.
The future is bright for Atalanta. They have achieved all this mostly without their superb and much wanted striker, Duvan Zapata. His understudy Luis Muriel deserves praise, but now they can face the rest of the season with double the firepower. Atalanta are the shining light in Italy right now, showing that a belief in youth combined with shrewd activity in the market can get you a long way. Add to this the patience of the ownership and the belief in a style of play and many others should look to imitate this blueprint, including the ‘bigger clubs’.