Wednesday August 12 2020
Atalanta can surprise PSG too

PSG star Neymar earns as much as the entire Atalanta squad put together, but Lee Bushe has learned never to underestimate La Dea.

For the past four years, Atalanta have consistently defied expectations. Just when you thought Gian Piero Gasperini had taken this provincial club as far as they could as possibly go, he took them further. All the while playing an electrifying brand of football that has made them one of the most watchable sides in Europe.

In the pre-Gasperini era, Atalanta were an unexciting mid-table club, vastly overshadowed by their Milanese rivals just 40 kilometres down the road. Now they’re a regular fixture in Serie A’s top-four and have just had their best league season yet; finishing third with a club-record 78 points, scoring 98 goals in the process, the third-highest out of Europe’s top-five leagues.

Their tendency to defy expectations has extended to the Champions League too. Many thought Atalanta weren’t cut out for the competition when they lost their first three group stage games, but two wins and a draw in their following three fixtures ensured their place in the knockout stages.

There, they treated viewers to the kind of performances that Serie A fans were lucky enough to see nearly every week, beating Valencia 8-4 over two legs to qualify for the quarter-final, where they were drawn against one of the richest sides in football: Paris Saint-Germain. A team whose star player, Neymar, earns as much as Atalanta’s entire squad put together.

Given their status as a team known for defying the odds - along with a variety of other factors - there is actually a fair degree of optimism that Atalanta can beat PSG. Their recent performances are an obvious factor; La Dea have won nine of their 13 games post-restart, playing with the amount of swagger you’d expect such an in-form team to have.

What plays to Atalanta’s advantage the most, however, is the fact that Paris Saint-Germain head into this game with a few weaknesses. The first is psychological. Les Parisiens infamously underperform in the Champions League, having never advanced past the quarter-finals since their Qatari takeover in 2011. Having said that, they’ve had an excellent European campaign so far, but their high-earning players will be feeling the pressure to go further than they have done before.

The second weakness is a physical one. With Ligue 1 brought to a premature close in April, Paris Saint-Germain have played just two competitive fixtures since March and while they have played a few friendlies, they will be nowhere near as match-fit as Atalanta, who’ve had a month and a half of high-level football. Unlike Roma and Juventus, they also had time to rest and recuperate after the end of the Serie A season.

PSG’s biggest weakness, however, is that they’ll be without some of their key players. Angel Di Maria, who has contributed five assists in the Champions League thus far, is suspended, while Marco Verratti is injured. Meanwhile, top-scorer Kylian Mbappé is unlikely to be making more than a cameo appearance after his ankle injury last month.

That isn’t to say that Paris Saint-Germain don’t have the edge over Atalanta. Their squad, boasting the likes of Neymar and Mauro Icardi, is far better on paper, while the Italians will have to make do without top scorer Josip Ilicic and first-choice goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini.

Regardless, there wouldn’t be that much surprise if Atalanta were to beat Paris Saint-Germain and progress to the semi-final. After all, these past four years have taught us never to underestimate La Dea.

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Have your say...
it’s too bad too unfortunate to see 3 italian clubs eliminated from CL.
i must admit it is disastrous and totally unacceptable.
i cannot stress more how troubling italian clubs have reached to.
on the 12th August, 2020 at 10:59pm

So close but like all italian clubs crumble when they have game won. but hey they still did better than Juve and who knows, if it were a 2 legged match...
on the 12th August, 2020 at 10:49pm
Without key players like verratti & di maria, PSG midfield is not stronger than Juve. In fact, I feel like their lineup is not really that intimidating. Atalanta should be able to dominate the play, create more chances. Wheter they can actually win is another matter. Because all it takes is few moments of magic from top players like neymar or mbappe off the bench, or even icardi, to change the match result against the run of play.
Still, good luck for atalanta, they deserve it after all.
on the 12th August, 2020 at 6:57pm
Well written article, Lee.

I'll just add another symbolic comparison between the two teams:
Paris has population of 2,150,000.
Bergamo has population of 120,000.

This is also Atalanta's FIRST CL!

Still, I'm glad you didn't exaggerate Bergamaschi's achievements in CL. Thus far, they "only" threw out Shakhtar & Valencia..!

I fully expect PSG win today, but having already outperformed Juve/ Roma/ Milan in two games & Inter in one game, Dea advancing wouldn't be shocking.
on the 12th August, 2020 at 6:09pm
I like(d) Juventus because they represented the true beauty of Calcio, with champions ranging from Baggio, Del Piero, to Buffon, to name a few. Calcio is truly the best form of football I believe in. InterLOL keep telling yourself you know what cognitive dissonance means, given how your disgusting club created Farsopoli. Irony, much?
on the 12th August, 2020 at 5:14pm
I hope Inter wins Europa and Atalanta can make the semi's at least... so that Juve management can sit back and watch how it's done.... and then wake the efff up and go do the same!!!
on the 12th August, 2020 at 4:41pm
Let's not forget: If Dinamo had won against Shakhtar, Atalanta would be out!

Dinamo was leading
against 10-MAN Shakhtar...

Yet game incredibly ended 3-3!!!

After being destroyed by City(5-1) & Dinamo(4-0), losing home game against Shakhtar, then drawing City in Bergamo... Atalanta was somehow still in it :)

Hope similar luck occurs today with a red carded penalty for Navas...
--Atalanta without Ilicic & in recent bad form will need it.
on the 12th August, 2020 at 3:49pm
This year everything clicked for Atalanta in CL:

- Being in pot 4 they got City from pot 1...
But avoided Real, Atletico, Dortmund, Tottenham from pot 2 & got "doable" Shakhtar!
(They also got the weakest team from pot 3.)
- In knockouts they got Valencia!

- CL isn't played simultaneously with national competitions.
- It's a one-off game where favourites can be easily surprised.
- Dea plays injury plagued PSG.

- IF they get through, "doable" Leipzig or Atletico awaits them!

on the 12th August, 2020 at 3:20pm
...& Pinto, let's be frank:
The REAL REASON you passionately hate City & PSG has nothing to do with money. It's because their owners have different religion, different culture.

I will cheer for Atalanta with all my heart because they:
1. play BRAVE, attacking football.
2. are minnows; started as HUGE underdogs.
3. come from Serie A.
4. come from Bergamo, one of the towns hit hardest by Corona.

5. Some Milan fans said Atalanta doesn't deserve to play in CL. --It would be great if Dea WINS IT!!
on the 12th August, 2020 at 2:49pm
I thought "Pinturicchio" means "pathetic" in Italian... It doesn't! I just googled it, it means "painter".

I LOVE CL! It's where Juventini get a taste of football hierarchy & become moaners themselves.
Same happens with their arrogant players :)
--Oh, the irony! The hypocrisy!

(Hating on money, arrogance, "Goliath"... yet cheering for Juve? --Hilarious!)

Yeah, Pinto, I'm sure you were cheering for Napoli & Roma last week. Don't forget to cross fingers for Inter on Monday as well! ;)
on the 12th August, 2020 at 1:58pm
[email protected]!!! "Talent over money, heart over arrogance, and David vs the gruffy Goliath" and yet you still support Juve, that is called cognitive dissonance!

Most Inter and Milan fans are rooting for Atalanta and not playing one-upmanship in doing so.
on the 12th August, 2020 at 1:24pm
Regardless of what happens tonight, Atalanta have my outmost respect (just for this season alone). One of the few teams in Italy that actually makes an attempt to play attractive football and they do it very well, and on such limited resources. I wish them all the best and I hope they make it to the semis.
on the 12th August, 2020 at 11:39am
Atalanta needs J. Iličić to go through. Sad thing.
on the 12th August, 2020 at 10:58am
I'm afraid PSG is a step too far for Atalanta. It has been an incredible achievement anyway, and I just hope they go out with a respectable scoreline.

But if, somehow, they come out as winners, then Leicester have got nothing on them. I will call it the biggest miracle in football history.
on the 12th August, 2020 at 10:31am
Good luck to Atalanta. I really respect how they don't want to be a mid-table club anymore.After qualifying for the CL last season,they could have sold some star players for huge profit but instead supported their great coach by keeping them & even reinforced the squad with the likes of Muriel & Caldara.Their reward is a second top 3 finish in Serie A & CL quarters(after 3 opening defeats).This change in mentality & fantastic youth/scouting system could make them a force for years to come.
on the 12th August, 2020 at 10:11am
Being a Juventino, I love Calcio and Serie A, unlike others from Milan, and especially the pathetic southerners who will blame everyone for their woes but themselves, ALWAYS looking for alibis.

Having played football on different levels and being a maverick at heart, I've always loved talent over money, heart over arrogance, and David vs the gruffy Goliath.

So I'll be cheering on Atalanta vs one of the crime-infested blemishes on world football, PSG (other being Manchester City)
on the 12th August, 2020 at 9:37am
It would be the dream to have 2 Italian teams in European semifinals in a season that looked disastrous for serie A in Europe but honestly I get the feeling this will be another Mancity like drubbing. If it were over 2 legs I would have had better belief but even if they exit the tounarment today atalanta can do no wrong
.its been another season of overachievment and possibly the last time they will do well
on the 12th August, 2020 at 9:35am
There should be plenty of goals, though Atalanta's defence could be in real trouble if Mbappe is fully fit to play.

But Atalanta, unlike the rest of Serie A sides over recent years, won't be afraid of their own shadow in a European game and will give it a go.

It'd be great to see them go through, because A Madrid and Liepzig are beatable.

Bayern or M City in the final might be beyond them, but again, they'll scare them with their attacking play.
on the 12th August, 2020 at 9:34am
We shouldn't be looking at Atalanta to pull off an upset win, but rather can PSG get a victory over a much stronger Atalanta.

PSG is going to get played off the park.

Atalanta's biggest cause for concern is the officials looking to call for a penalty at the drop of a hat. Believe me; that's what they're up against tomorrow. With Barcelona, Bayern and Man City all on one-side of the draw, UEFA will have given the officials strict instructions to ensure Neymar and Mbappe are playing in the final
on the 12th August, 2020 at 1:27am

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