Season Preview: Atalanta – Questions persist for Serie A’s yo-yo club
Last Season: Atalanta spent just one year in the second tier before returning as champions of Serie B. They made a stuttering start to the campaign but soon found consistency and hit an impressive run of form after the Christmas break. Their squad always looked too good for the division and combined with a Coach of Stefano Colantuono’s repute, a promotion for the Bergamese outfit never looked out of question. Club icon Cristiano Doni proved once again his huge influence on La Dea’s play and while he chipped in with goals himself, he contributed plenty of assists, often for Simone Tiribocchi.
The Squad: It is a squad that appears too good for the second tier yet somewhat lacking for the top-flight. However, faith has been kept with the core of the squad that served them well last season as new signings have been scarce. Thomas Manfredini’s and Doni’s suspension has left the community of the club in a state of outrage while the club continues to protest their innocence and is showing a completely united front as they fight the points deduction and player suspensions handed out by the FIGC.
A key element to their approach for the coming season exists in the likelihood that if Cristiano Doni proves to be unsuccessful in his attempts to appeal against his effectively career-ending suspension, there will be a creative gap in the team that will need rectifying. The timing of Giacomo Bonaventura’s emergence into the first-team has been kind in this respect and it is hoped that he will grow into a player of similar standing to that of Doni in the coming years.
German Denis and Stefano Lucchini are two notable acquisitions with the former hoping to finally play on a consistant basis. Lucchini’s arrival is one born of the desire to stay in the division as his experience and versatility are useful attributes to add to a backline that will find themselves tested on a much more frequent basis than last season. As for departures from Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, Francesco Ruopolo has remained in Serie B joining Padova while defender Leonardo Talamonti has gone home to Argentina.
Coach - Stefano Colantuono: There were question marks as to whether Colantuono would remain in charge after promotion back to Serie A but he remains at the club and it’s hoped that his familiarity with the team will mean some needed stability in the potentially unsettling situation the club is in. With the arrival of new technical director Pierpaolo Marino, odds are still somewhat short on Colantuono not lasting long into the season should early results not meet expectations.
It is quite possible that Colantuono will change formation often, at least by what has been implemented in pre-season with experiments in a back five as well as an attacking trident. However despite such experiments, expectations are that Atalanta will start the season using 4-4-2 with the central midfielders deeper and the side midfielders pushed higher up the pitch. Should Colantuono look to take the game to the opposition then it’s more likely that one of the holding midfielders would make way for an attack-minded central midfielder as opposed to adding a forward to proceedings. Alternatively, Colantuono may well opt for a 5-4-1 with Tiribocchi as the sole striker when up against the leading lights of Serie A.
Player to look out for: Giacomo Bonaventura: Showed flashes of brilliance last season plus with Doni’s suspension, Bonaventura will be given more creative responsibility and it’s hoped that the youngster will thrive under such pressures. However, the quality divide from Serie B to Serie A is one that he’ll need to overcome quickly for him to make an impact.
Prediction: A scrap for survival was always on the cards for the Nerazzurri excluding their current potentially distracting circumstances but they have enough quality to keep above their relegation rivals.
Probable XI: Consigli
Masiello - Capelli - Lucchini - Bellini
Schelotto - Barreto - Padoin - Bonaventura