The Atalanta Story – The Incredible Rise of a Middle-Class Club to the Most Exciting Club in Europe
You wouldn’t expect a small-time club with a modest budget to make it in the Italian Serie A, let alone in the Champions League. By all accounts, at least in modern football, that feat seems impossible. However, it just so happens that a small club from a middle-class town of Bergamo has managed to achieve just that.
Atalanta is currently the most exciting club to watch in Europe. They play competitive football by scoring a plethora of goals. With this style, they have managed to finish in the top four of the Serie A two times in the last three seasons.
Praise the Coach
The person that Atalanta owes its success is definitely the coach, Gian Piero Gasperini. He arrived at Bergamo in the year 2016 from Genoa. He was almost sacked after losing four games in a row but managed to preserve his job with a 1-0 win over Napoli. That year Atalanta finished fourth in the league.
Gasperini plays the standard formation of 3-4-3, which is by no means spectacular. Almost all clubs in Italy use the formation with three defenders in the back. But the way Gasperini was able to motivate his players to both defend and the score is exceptional.
The Right Players
Having a modest budget, Atalanta has no means of splashing loads of cash like some other football giants from Italy do. Instead, they employ their players from all parts of Europe, even the Championship. Those who fit in Gasperini’s system stay, those that don’t move away and go elsewhere. It is as simple as that.
The usual transfer fee revolves around €5 million, as they can rarely afford to go over eight. But even with those types of players int is the system that counts, not the individuals.
Gasperini manages a tight shift and often screams at defenders for missing out on tackles. On the other side, he allows the attackers to do their thing. An important key of the puzzle is the captain Alejandro Gomez, the playmaker of the team, who makes sure that everything goes smoothly.
When it comes to the attack, Atalanta is the most efficient team in Europe. Surprisingly, only Bayern Munich was able to score more goals than Atalanta in the five top leagues.
The attack is led by the Colombian duo of Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel. The two actually rarely get to be on the pitch at the same time but are efficient nonetheless.
The breakout player and definitely a surprise for everyone is Josip Ilicic. Considered as a journeyman, Ilicic is playing the most efficient season of his career, posting better stats than Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Champions League
Atalanta’s debut Champions League season is already a success. They got out of the group stage by defeating Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk and finished second. Next, they were able to eliminate Valencia by scoring eight goals in two matches to qualify for the quarter-finals.
The draw has paired them with PSG now, but Atalanta still boasts hopes for a miracle even against the Parisians.