Serie A’s Surprise Package Atalanta Built To Defy The Odds
Serie A side Atalanta came back from a goal down versus SPAL last weekend to secure a 2-1 victory, the latest in an incredible run of results that sees them sitting just one point behind the Champions League places in fifth.
Indeed, Gian Piero Gasperini’s men have been unbeaten since a 3-1 loss away to Genoa on December 22nd as 2019 has truly been kind to the Bergamaschi so far.
“We produced a good performance against Atalanta, who I think are the fittest team in the league,” SPAL boss Leonardo Semplici told Radio RAI in what was an accurate and honest assessment of the opposition’s strengths.
“We deserved the lead, but the difference was made by their quality players who produced two or three great moments.”
Just 5️⃣ points separate 3rd to 7th place in the Serie A table 🇮🇹— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) February 11, 2019
Dogfight ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/B5N31TRvyA
Josip Ilicic and the hugely in-form Duvan Zapata are two of the “quality players” indicated by Semplici, that duo having fired La Dea onto the victory. The latter forward has scored no less than 15 goals in his last ten outings, his nine strikes in this calendar year joint-most in Europe’s top-five leagues with Edinson Cavani and Gabriel Jesus.
Of course, this will mean that Atalanta may struggle to hold on to the Colombian in the summer, but for now they can focus on reaching the Champions League against all odds. To put their achievements into context, Gasperini achieved a club-record points total in his first season at the club, even after he was almost fired following a poor start to the 2016/17 campaign.
That season La Dea notched up a total of 72 points, enough to see them finish fourth and secure a Europa League berth. When considering who might secure a place in Serie A’s top four this term, it’s very much worth noting that Atalanta have done this before, even if there were only three Champions League places available to Italy during that season.
Serie A betting fans can find odds of 3/1 on Gasperini’s side finishing in the top four by the end of the season and for the following reasons, this is a bet that makes perfect sense at this moment in time.
Atalanta Built To Defy The Odds
Since veteran Gasperini took charge of the club, he has built a side that don’t pay any attention to negative words such as “can’t” and “won’t”. Let’s not forget, this is a side nicknamed “La regina delle provinciali” (queen of the provincial clubs), their stadium holding just 21,300 at maximum capacity.
They reside in the region of Lombardy, just 37 miles away from the two San Siro giants of AC Milan and Inter, but this underdog status has served the Coach well in his approach.
When initially under pressure to save his job, Gasperini opted to make one last throw of the dice and fielded a squad of promising young players called up from the youth sector.
From then, he has never looked back and – although some have now been snapped up by bigger clubs – the belief he instilled in them has transcended throughout the side ever since.
They beat Everton 5-1 at Goodison Park in the 2017/18 edition of the Europa League group stages, the heaviest home defeat for an English club in the UEFA Cup or Europa League since March 1996, adding a further giant-killing of Lyon before finishing top of their group.
Never Give Up Philosophy
Atalanta never stop believing, even when they are behind. Statistics according to Whoscored.com reveal that this side make the third highest number of ball interceptions in the league with an average of 12.1 per game, a figure that highlights their high-tempo approach to matches.
They finished 2018 showing their attacking mentality and fearlessness going forward with the highest number of touches in the opposition box (1008) in Serie A that year, while this season their defenders have scored more goals (15) than any other side in Europe’s top-five leagues.
🔢 Latest #SerieA Top 4 Odds:— Bookmakers.co.uk (@bookmakers) February 12, 2019
🔵 Napoli 👉 1/500
⚫️ Inter 👉 1/4
🔴 AC Milan 👉 13/8
🇻🇦 Roma 👉 15/8
🔵 Lazio 👉 2/1
⚫️ Atalanta 👉 3/1
🏃♂️ Next weekend is a big one in the race!
During their shock 3-0 win over Juventus in the Coppa Italia quarter-final, Atalanta covered 112.338km as a team, an impressive display of fitness versus a team that have entirely whitewashed the Italian football landscape in the last four years.
The three fastest players on the pitch in terms of average speed were Robin Gosens, Mario Pasalic and Remo Freuler, beating even Cristiano Ronaldo on the night.
“It’s not easy to keep this tempo, as we are competing against the two Roman clubs, the two Milanese sides, plus others like Torino and Sampdoria,” Gasperini admitted to reporters after the win over SPAL.
Yet if anyone can “keep up the tempo,” Atalanta can.
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