2016-17 SERIE A PREVIEW

ATALANTA

2016-17 preview

Club News - History - Records - Stadium - 2015-16 Review - 2016-17 Squad

After a change of management, the Orobici are hoping to end the season in the top half of the table, writes Barney Lloyd-Wood.

Atalanta aim higher

A club with loud tifosi going quietly about their business, but with a new Coach, new players and fresh new ambition, Atalanta will hope to improve on finishing 13th last season and 17th the year before. Never ones to get pushed around without a fight against the bigger boys, some shrewd acquisitions and La Dea could feasibly aim to start breaking into the top 10.

Edy Reja has been replaced by experienced boss Gian Piero Gasperini, who will be aiming to bring more of his attacking verve to a side that was often a little dull and pedestrian last term. The Bergamo club has a world class youth academy that is constantly churning out talents, so Gasp will have plenty of players to choose from when looking for strength in depth or new faces to launch.

Keeping hold of Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez will be a key point going forward, while they have also bolstered their attacking options with the arrival of Alberto Paloschi from a brief Swansea City experience. Not many clubs fighting against relegation have a Chile international forward like Mauricio Pinilla on the bench, though he could get more playing time under Gasperini’s system.

The Stadio Azzurri d’Italia crowd has had enough of scraping by in Serie A and wants to see greater ambition and entertainment from the team. That was the driving force behind the hiring of a more prestigious Coach like Gasperini, who should build on defensive solidity with his own brand of attacking football.

Signings are to be appreciated, but the joy with Atalanta every year is seeing which new bright starlet of Italian football will break through.

Star player - Alejandro Gomez

Despite links to Milan, the Argentine winger remains a consistent threat among the Nerazzurri ranks, and will be a focal part of that side should they elevate themselves from their recent bottom half finishes. With blistering pace and an eye for goal, keeping hold of their number 10 will be a top priority for Atalanta.

The Coach - Gian Piero Gasperini

The 58-year-old tactician showed at Genoa enough tactical knowledge and ambition to lift Atalanta from mid-table obscurity after the departure of Edy Reja. Sacked by Palermo in 2013 after losing to his current employers, he also had a spell at Inter in 2011, which is probably best left unmentioned…

Best signing - Ervin Zukanovic

The Bosnian brought in for a season-long loan from Roma can be a strong addition to a side who managed to hold a reasonably impressive goal difference despite struggling at times. The former Sampdoria man’s ability to play centre-back or left-back may please Gasperini the most.

Azzurri prospect - Alberto Paloschi

Showing glimmers rather than anything hugely promising at Swansea, Alberto Paloschi arrived back in Italy with Atalanta after half a season away, but a decent record in Serie A for Chievo and Parma. He is uncapped for his country, but a successful season could give new Azzurri boss Giampiero Ventura something to think about.

The one that got away - Gabriel Paletta

La Dea have not given up on Juan Iturbe and Suso, but the latter’s team mate will not be coming back to Bergamo, according to his agent. Following a successful loan spell at Atleti Azzurri D’Italia, agent Martin Guastadisegno has suggested the Argentine will stay at Milan.

Probable line up

Sportiello; Nica, Toloi, ZUKANOVIC, Brivio; Carmona, Kurtic, D’Alessandro, Gomez; Pinilla, PALOSCHI

Season prediction - Mid-table