After important late goals saved them at home and in Europe during the past week, Atalanta BC welcome Sassuolo to the Gewiss Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The Bergamaschi have been indebted to strikes in the final 15 minutes in each of their last two outings, and now they face opponents who are struggling to maintain momentum under new leadership.
Having approached their first Champions League encounter of the season straight after a dispiriting home defeat to Fiorentina last week, Atalanta were more than relieved when they salvaged a 2-2 draw on the opening night.
Starting their third consecutive campaign in the competition with a point against Villarreal – thanks to a late Robin Gosens strike – sent them to Salerno in improved spirits before they resumed domestic action on Saturday.
However, it again took a goal deep into the second period for La Dea to see off the claims of their promoted opponents, who have been off the pace so far in the Italian elite – with Colombian striker Duvan Zapata this time the man to find the decisive finish.
The last time the Bergamo side went three Serie A matches without a win was in November of last year, so coach Gian Piero Gasperini was admittedly relieved when the final whistle confirmed maximum points at the Arechi.
His team now host opposition who they have devoured without hesitation in the recent past, with only a 1-1 draw in May ending a four-game streak in which Atalanta outscored Sassuolo by 16 goals to four – winning comfortably on each occasion.
Therefore – particularly given the Neroverdi’s sticky start to the 2021-22 season – Gasperini and company will expect to come out on top once again.
After another eighth-placed finish last term, under now-departed boss Roberto De Zerbi, the current campaign got off to a strong start for Sassuolo, as they defeated Hellas Verona on the opening day.
The Emilians, though, have since taken just a solitary point from their following three games, and are causing some concern for new head coach Alessio Dionisi.
Their latest setback came on Saturday, as an 83rd-minute Marko Pjaca curler beat veteran stopper Andrea Consigli in the Neroverdi goal, and proved just reward for a Torino team that created far more chances at the Mapei Stadium.
A second straight late defeat may demoralise Dionisi’s troops ahead of the trip to Lombardy, but they had previously won a club-record five away games in a row before falling to Roma’s stoppage-time winner last time they were on the road.
Since Francesco Caputo’s exit broke up his successful partnership with Sassuolo’s star man Domenico Berardi, the Neroverdi have managed just one goal in three Serie A outings, so they will be looking to his Italy colleagues Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca to help ease the burden and fire them to an unexpected victory on Tuesday.
Atalanta BC Serie A form:
Atalanta BC form (all competitions):
Sassuolo Serie A form:
Sassuolo form (all competitions):
We say: Atalanta BC 2-1 Sassuolo
The odds are stacked against Sassuolo on Tuesday, as Atalanta are getting closer to their irresistible peak and can generally score from all departments – no matter what their starting XI.
Because the visitors have suffered an unusual lack of cutting edge of late, they will be outscored by their hosts, who can then prepare for a major clash at San Siro