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Why PSG should be aware of Atalanta

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It was a near miss for Inter Milan who bottled the title as they lost the chance by a solitary point. Despite the bigger Serie A clubs finishing strongly, it is the likes of Atalanta which has gained traction in the Italian top-tier.

The struggling club finished the season in third place, just five points shy of the champions Juventus and three points shy of Inter Milan. The superior goal difference to that of Lazio resulted in them taking fourth place in the standings.

What makes Atalanta, Atalanta?
What is most exciting about Atalanta? Why are they being applauded? The answer is simple. The club has been a mid-table team like that of Crystal Palace or Everton in the Premier League. Prior to this season, their last four finishes in Serie A were 11th, 17th, 13th, fourth, and seventh. Now they’ve accomplished a strong top-four finish for the second time in five years.

One can observe a significant change in the pattern of their finishes. From being a talent nurturing club, they have risen to become a league competitor. What is the reason behind the change?

The club found an eminent coach in the form of Gian Gasperini, who not only managed the young players, but was also flexible in his approach. Atalanta is not a team that has a key bunch of players to utilize accordingly, to which the manager can set the team out against his opposition.

It was one of the best things to happen for the Serie A outfit. Also, he brought a change in approach for the side without flashing money in the market. The gaffer was able to do as it is. The mindset of players would decides the results on the matchday.

On the other hand, the smart bit by management yielded the results for the club. Papu Gomez was lost in Ukraine and was bought by the club, where he would become a key figure in their recent success. Also, they signed the “star of the season”, Ilicic from Florentina for a reported fee of €6 million.

The player has 15 goals and eight assists in 26 appearances. Also, the club developed players like Conti, who has been instrumental in the club’s success. This shrewd business from the sporting directors underlines the importance of luck while on their journey.

Apart from developing a side with a formidable eleven, the club has also produced some super-substitutes in the form of Luis Muriel and Ruslan Malinovsky. Muriel has helped his side in the Champions League coming on from the bench, whereas Ruslan has scored eight goals and five assists in 33 appearances with 32 per cent of playing time on the pitch.

One can attribute the success of Atalanta and Gian Gasperini to a mix of patience, shrewd business, and passion shown by their players. They have also come all the way in the Champions League where they have to face PSG in the quarterfinals. With the force on their side with a brilliant and tactical manager, can Atalanta make into the next round of UCL knockouts with the change in format?

• Culled thetopflight.com.


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