Serie A – Hellas Verona – Atalanta Bergamo: Can La Dea really win the scudetto?


The message has the merit of having been crystal clear. In just one week, Atalanta Bergamo has warned all the Serie A behemoths: yes, she will have to be counted on for the title of Italian champion. After beating Juventus (0-1) in Turin on November 27, the Nerazzurri were expected at the turn against Napoli, leader of the standings, on Saturday. With all the media agreeing that a possible success would formalize their candidacy for the Scudetto. Although led to about thirty minutes from the final whistle, the Dea finally overturned the band to Luciano Spalletti, certainly very weakened, to prevail on the wire (2-3) at the Diego Maradona Stadium.

To beat Juve and Napoli in seven days, which is more on the outside, is not really given to everyone. Gasperini and his men did it. And the craziest thing about all of this is that no one is really surprised.

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The « final » for Villarreal who will see the 8th


For a few years now, Atalanta has been anything but a surprise. She even quietly settled in the top 4 of Serie A, synonymous with qualification in the Champions League. Perfectly managed by the Percassi family, superbly reinforced year after year by the sports management and its scouting teams, magnificently trained by Gian Piero Gasperini, the Dea continues to shine.

The scudetto? The day we are first …

Regardless of the departures. The « Papu Gomez » packed his bags last January after a quarrel with his trainer? It would almost already be forgotten. Players like Franck Kessié, Andrea Conti (AC Milan), Bryan Cristante, Gianluca Mancini (AS Rome), or more recently Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Timothy Castagne (Leicester), Musa Barrow (Bologna), Dejan Kulusevski (Juve) are gone too? Bergamo’s leaders have never been taken aback, always finding replacements to match, if not even better.

They have collected, in total, more than 300 million euros since January 2017, for more or less twenty departures. All without losing sight of the sporting aspect and the results. A model for many other clubs, who probably dream of achieving an estimated (positive) turnover of 241 million euros and « only » 75 million in operating costs.

Beaten by Villarreal (2-3) and eliminated from C1 Thursday night, Atalanta obviously has regrets, she who dreamed of a third consecutive qualification in the round of 16. But the Nerazzurri don’t make a big deal out of it either. They are aware of the long road taken in recent years. The fight to maintain three minutes of a historic qualification against PSG in the quarter-final of the Champions League a little over a year ago.

Reversed in the Europa League, the Dea knows that it will have a say in a competition within its reach. « We will watch the draw carefully« , has already warned Rafael Toloi. But in Bergamo, everyone has a dream. And frankly, no one is really hiding it. Yes, the goal of the Serie A title is no longer a utopia. three consecutive seasons on the podium, the Scudetto is now the main objective of the « Gasperini’s boys », who are part of the leading breakaway grouped into four points. AC Milan (38 pts) leads the way, ahead of Inter (37 pts), Napoli (36 pts) and therefore Atalanta (34 pts) Behind, the peloton, led by Juventus, is lagging behind and is currently at seven points.

For Emery, it’s an « elite team with a magnificent game »

« The championship is still long, however tempered Gian Piero Gasperini after the victory on the ground of Napoli. Winning here, a week after Juve, it’s two gold medals. Everyone’s talking about the scudetto, but we’ve never been first. The day we are up there, we can talk about it (…) At most, we were second last season. But we have never been in the lead. What is certain is that we are not going to deflate. “Basically, the conductor of the Bergamasque symphony believes it. This season, he could touch with his finger a dream that no one would have dared to have in the Lombard city a few years ago. Founded in 1907, the ‘Atalanta has never won the “tricolor.” Conscious and lucid, the “Gasp” prefers to keep his feet on the ground.

For his part, Unai Emery, meanwhile, remained impressed by the collective play of Duvàn Zapata and his teammates. « It’s a big victory against a team that plays very well in the Champions League, confided the coach of Villarreal on Thursday. In addition, they are now playing for the Serie A title. They are an elite team with a magnificent game. « 

And yet, Atalanta had waited to be led 3-0 to finally get started. A (bad) habit she often has at the start of the season, especially in the league. During the first twelve days of this 2021-2022 vintage, his performance showed 6 wins, 4 draws and 2 losses. Since then, the engine is officially underway with five consecutive victories. But to aim for the Grail, Gasperini believes, however, that his team still has to correct certain points.

Conte warns PSG: « Atalanta is a giant in Italy »

« We still have to progress from a technical point of view, he confided last week. Too often we lose simple-to-play balls that expose us to opposing play. We also need to make some corrections on teamwork. But from a mental point of view, my players are stronger than anything. «  Difficult to prove him wrong. Led in Naples, Atalanta turned everything upside down in the last twenty-five minutes. It notably came close to a « comeback » twice against AC Milan (0-2 to 2-3) and Villarreal (0-2 to 2-3) this season. After collapsing against the Young Boys, the Dea managed to snatch the draw (3-3) in the 88th minute.

Gosens, the lethal weapon

An explanation can notably be found in the great resources at its disposal. Just imagine that players like Luis Muriel and Mario Pasalic were on the bench against Napoli. On fire, Ruslan Malinovskyi almost changed the game on his own when he came against Villarreal. Matteo Pessina, scorer of two goals for Italy at Euro 2020, would now be almost considered a replacement. A scoring machine for years, Atalanta is currently the second best attack in the championship (35 goals) behind Inter (39 goals).

If it manages to improve in the approach and mental management of a meeting, Gasperini’s team, which sometimes walks in reaction more than in action, can become formidable. Finally, the return of Robin Gosens, scheduled for early 2022, could give Atalanta a new boost for the second part of the season. Seriously injured, the German international is an essential weapon for the proper functioning of Gasperini’s mechanisms. She could become fatal in the mad quest for the scudetto.

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