After their 2-1 victory over Fiorentina, Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta qualified for the Coppa Italia final; a feat they last accomplished over 23 years ago. You would have to go back all the way to 1963 since the last time gli Orobici hoisted the trophy. Since Gasperini’s arrival, Atalanta have played some of the most exciting football on the peninsula, and are finally being rewarded for it. Despite losing key players every other season, Atalanta remain unfazed, and continue to play their progressive football.
In addition to their impressive cup run, Atalanta have been on a tear in league play as well, scoring 66 goals thus far; just one behind league leaders Juventus. Duvan Zapata, Josip Ilicic and Alejandro Gomez have proven to be one of the league’s most lethal trios, tormenting defences at will.
As of right now, the Bergamo based outfit are tied for fourth place with Milan on 56 points, with just five games to play. Should they claim their second ever Coppa Italia and qualify for next season’s Champions League, the 2018-2019 season will undoubtedly go down as one of Atalanta’s most successful seasons in their history.
Let’s have a look and see just how feasible this is for Italy’s high-flyers. In their next two games, Gasperini’s men take on relegation threatened Udinese, and Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio. While Atalanta should have no issues dispatching Udinese, Lazio will represent a different challenge altogether.
Inzaghi’s men will have their eyes set on the top four, and are one of Atalanta’s direct competitors for top four football. In the past, Lazio have closed their seasons strongly, however, have typically failed at the final hurdle. Atalanta, on the other hand, are new to the top four race, but haven’t shown their inexperience thus far going toe-to-toe with the likes of Juventus, Roma, and Napoli among others.
In their last three games, Gasperini’s men will then take on Genoa, Juventus, and Sassuolo. All three games represent challenges of their own, but if this season is anything to go by, they will be up for the challenge. In their first encounter this season, Atalanta succumbed to Genoa by a score of 3-1, while they held the league champions Juventus to a draw. When they met Juventus in the Coppa Italia, by contrast, gli Orobici made light work of the bianconeri and prevailed 3-0.
One thing that will play in Atalanta’s favour is their opponents’ motivation, or lack thereof, rather. Genoa are completely safe from the drop, while Juventus have already claimed the Scudetto, and will be experimenting with their lineup. The same goes for Sassuolo, who much like Genoa, are more than safe. As a result, Atalanta’s hunger could see them prevail.
As for the Coppa Italia, Gasperini’s men will take on Lazio. While it will undoubtedly be a difficult affair, Atalanta have proven they fear no club this season, and could go toe-to-toe with just about anybody in Italy. As a result, winning the Coppa Italia is far more than just a pipe dream for the bergamaschi.
Gasperini and Atalanta will be happy with this season no matter how it ends, but it would be nice for their efforts to be rewarded with a trophy and Champions League football to boot. Bar none, they have played the best football in Italy, and would be worthy representatives in Europe next year. The ball is now in their court, and if this season is anything to go by, they’ll likely lump it up the field to Zapata, and score.
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