With many of the European top tier leagues heading to the winter break for the festive season, it’s a perfect time to have a look at one of the surprise teams in European football, Italian side Atalanta from Bergamo.
Not only has Atalanta kept up their pace in Italian Serie A, where they were sensationally third last season, but they have paved their way to the Champions League knockout stages as well. Currently placed fifth in Serie A, Atalanta can head to the break with a massive result under their belt after beating AC Milan 5-0 in their last game before Christmas.
Atalanta’s success shouldn’t come as a surprise, since they already made their mark last season by reaching the third place in Serie A. Many doubted their ability to stick to their winning ways after only adding Luis Muriel and Ruslan Malinovskyi to the team, while losing midfield duo Franck Kessie and Bryan Cristante. Manager Gian Piero Gasperini has been able to adapt his team to play to their strengths, which namely is dynamic offensive football at all costs – which of course everyone loves.
They have scored the most goals in Serie A this season, 43 in 17 games, despite losing their at the time best scorer Duvan Zapata to injury already in the beginning of October. Newcomer Luis Muriel has more than stepped in to his fellow countryman’s boots, having scored 10 goals in 15 appearances. Experienced Josip Ilicis has filled in with proficiency as well, with the total tally of seven goals and four assists. Offense is the best defense for Atalanta and they’re well aware of the fact.
Defensively Atalanta is not as bad as they could be with all-out-attack mentality. They are 10th in goals conceded, but have proven they can shut down opponents as well. Clean sheets against AS Roma and now AC Milan in Serie A and Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League tell a story of defensive prowess if need be.
Even if Atalanta’s flight wouldn’t take them to glory in Champions League or the challenge for Scudetto, the team has shown that football can be entertaining and efficient at the same time. Notably, Atalanta’s team has practically no big name signings and their success proves that it is possible on a shoestring as well.