Standings implications: Atalanta held on to dear life against Juventus and took home a point that allowed them to pull even with Inter in third position, but they are up head-to-head, as the Nerazzurri fell apart in Naples. Milan stay in the hunt one point behind them after defeating Frosinone, while Roma need a miracle since they bungled the Sassuolo game. Torino fizzled out of the Europa League race since they were topped by Empoli. In the race to avoid relegation, the Tuscan Azzurri leapfrogged Genoa, while Udinese and Parma punched their ticket for next year’s Serie A by topping SPAL and Fiorentina, Cagliari by tying with the Griffon. La Viola is very much in the thick of it since they will square off against Genoa next week, over whom they hold a three-point lead. Empoli will pay Inter a visit. Bologna need a point against Lazio to be sure.
Sassuolo-Roma: the Neroverdi were handed their first loss since April last week by Torino, even though they certainly put up a fight, despite not being in need of points. The Giallorossi defeated Juventus with a late surge, garnering their fourth win in the last six rounds, tying in the other two and staying close to the fourth spot. Sassuolo have found the target in five of the last six rounds and La Lupa have not been great defensively on the road: they have spread the wealth around since Domenico Berardi was the only one to bag one in multiple matches. Jeremie Boga, Stefano Sensi, Manuel Locatelli and all the defenders contributed scoring-wise: Boga and Sensi have been their most lively contributors in the last few fixtures. The Giallorossi are getting a lot from Stephan El Shaarawy and Edin Dzeko, while the latest tactical change, if confirmed, would help the likes of Nicolò Zaniolo, Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert, as the last two would see more minutes. Lorenzo Pellegrini is iffy due to a thigh ailment and his absence could allow Bryan Cristante to have a big role.
Atalanta-Genoa: the Bergamaschi keep soaring and bested Lazio in a seminal clash last week, garnering their third win a row and building a little lead over Roma in the race to get the fourth position. They have not been defeated since the beginning of March. The Griffon is coming off two 1-1 ties in a row, versus SPAL and Roma, squandering a massive late opportunity on Sunday. They are four points above the third-to-last position. Suspensions are piling up for Gian Piero Gasperini and he will not be able to count on two defensive centre-pieces, Gianluca Mancini and Andrea Masiello, and more importantly on Alejandro Gomez, which will also not allow him to rotate the squad much ahead of next week’s cup final. Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata will take on an even larger load than usual: the Slovenian genius has been slowed down by some nagging injuries, while the Colombian powerhouse continues to lay hurt on opponents. Continue reading
Juventus: Paulo Dybala (quad), Douglas Costa (calf), Mario Mandzukic (knee) and Rodrigo Bentancur (thigh) remain on the shelf and have been joined by Daniele Rugani and Alex Sandro due to new thigh injuries. Martin Caceres has recovered. Emre Can was removed late from the squad list due to a muscular ailment.
Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne and Allan have both recuperated. Nikola Maksimovic (toe) and Amadou Diawara (foot) stay sidelined.
Inter: Matias Vecino has been ruled out due to a thigh contracture. Continue reading
Atalanta’s 2018-19 Serie A campaign has been nothing short of a fairytale thus far, as the club currently occupies the 4th UEFA Champions League spot with just four matches remaining. The Goddess, led by Italian mastermind Gian Piero Gasperini, currently holds her destiny in the palm of her hand and, if the stars align, will play Champions League football for the first time next season.
Beyond the 61-year old’s craftsmanship in molding young talent, which reportedly is of grave interest to the Milan hierarchy, Atalanta’s surge this campaign has been ignited by a bastion of individuals – young, old and everywhere in between. Specifically, captain Papu Gómez and capocannoniere contender Duván Zapata have formed a “little and big” relationship that is compatible with Gasperini’s vision for a high-powered offense, but the creative juices of Josip Iličić have been flowing so much that he has become the linchpin at the heart of Atalanta’s UCL dream. Continue reading
Juventus-Torino: the Bianconeri have no more achievements to pursue in Serie A, but they still showed up at San Siro last week and equalized in the second half after a poor start. They have yet to drop one at home. The Granata continue to be in the hunt not only for a Europa League berth: the fourth spot is four points away. They have defeated Milan and Genoa in their last two contests and have lost just once in the past 14. Cristiano Ronaldo scored last week and Miralem Pjanic has contributed with two assists recently. Federico Bernardeschi and Moise Kean are alternating next to the Portuguese ace, but neither is in supreme form, while Juan Cuadrado is starting to look sprier and Joao Cancelo is coming back on too. Continue reading
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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Juventus: Blaise Matuidi subbed off against Ajax due to a calf problem, but the injury is not believed to be severe. Emre Can (ankle) and Giorgio Chiellini (calf) will sit Saturday’s game too but they are not distant from returning. Juan Cuadrado is back after knee surgery, while Douglas Costa suffered a new calf problem. Miralem Pjanic, Mario Mandzukic and Cristiano Ronaldo have not been called up for rest purposes.
Napoli: Simone Verdi was scatched late for the previous match due to muscle fatigue, but he was called up for the London trip. Raul Albiol (knee) and Amadou Diawara will miss another one, but at least of them could be back next week.
Inter: Marcelo Brozovic suffered a pull of the semitendinosus muscle in the right pull and will miss the Frosinone game and perhaps one more after that. Lautaro Martinez and Stefan De Vrij are set to be called up after being sidelined by thigh ailments. Continue reading
Juventus-Milan: the Bianconeri are coming off a convincing outing in Cagliari, where they notched their second shutout win in a row and in general their seventh victory in the last eight fixtures. On the other hand, the Rossoneri failed to take home the full loot for three matches in a row as they lost to Inter and Sampdoria and then tied with Udinese. The Old Lady is likely to have back both Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala for this game, while Cristiano Ronaldo is slated to sit one more out. Some players could be spared in the Ajax game, in any case Moise Kean and Federico Bernardeschi are in terrific form and have lead them scoring-wise. Continue reading
Atalanta are still firmly in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League with a top four finish in Serie A at the end of the current campaign.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have amassed seven wins from their last 12 league games, and they will push Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan all the way between now and the end of the season.
The Bergamo club lost 3-1 won at home to the Rossoneri in mid-February, however they have reacted well to that setback and they could close the top four gap to a point, ahead of this weekend.