Between a frenetic international period and their return to the Champions League, Atalanta BC resume Serie A action on Saturday, as they host Fiorentina at the Gewiss Stadium.
While the Bergamaschi have picked up four points from their first two games of the domestic campaign, their visitors bounced back from an opening day loss to secure a welcome victory last time out.
After starting the new league campaign with a trip to Torino – where Roberto Piccoli’s last-gasp goal eventually secured maximum points – just before the break for World Cup qualifying, Atalanta were held by Bologna in a frustrating second outing.
Despite firing off 21 shots at the away side’s goal – 18 of which were on target – the Nerazzurri could not break through and recorded a rare goalless draw at their Bergamo headquarters.
Renowned as Calcio’s great entertainers, Atalanta finished third last season and only lost out in the Coppa Italia final to Juventus, and they are well-placed to continue their remarkable recent progress – having reinvested money received from the thrifty deal which saw Cristian Romero join Tottenham in several new recruits.
AZ captain and midfield dynamo Teun Koopmeiners was the latest to sign on at the Gewiss Stadium as the transfer window neared a close, and the Dutch international joins compatriots Marten de Roon and Hans Hateboer under the guidance of coach Gian Piero Gasperini this term.
Another intriguing purchase in a long line of transfer coups for the club, their newest capture may well feature against Fiorentina this weekend, with his new team strong favourites to add a fourth consecutive victory to their winning streak versus the Viola – which dates back to early 2020 and sees them 8-3 ahead on aggregate.
However – including the final match of last season – Atalanta have now failed to score in consecutive Serie A home matches for the first time since 2018. Perhaps a fixture against one of their most favoured victims of late will provide the perfect opportunity to remedy that uncharacteristic trend
Following defeat on the opening day at Stadio Olimpico – in a 3-1 loss to Roma – just before league football was put on pause, Fiorentina quickly made up lost ground by beating Torino on home soil.
The Viola emerged on top at the Franchi, thanks to the goals of summer signing Nicolas Gonzalez and reliable centre-forward Dusan Vlahovic in a 2-1 win.
Vlahovic, who has been busy representing Serbia during the past couple of weeks, netted 21 Serie A goals during the 2020-21 campaign, and has been linked with moves to major clubs in Spain and England ever since.
Nonetheless, the sharp-shooting 21-year-old has stayed put in Florence and started the season with a brace in the first round of the Coppa Italia and scoring what turned out to be the decisive goal versus Torino.
Though surely tempted by some apparently sizeable bids for his star man’s signature during the summer, Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso stayed resolute and may now get to reap the rewards with an improvement in fortunes fired by the striker’s penalty-box potency.
New coach Vincenzo Italiano has impressed with his commitment to attacking principles after arriving from last year’s surprise package Spezia, and Vlahovic’s commitment to the cause, plus several new recruits – including Lucas Torreira, Matija Nastasic and Real Madrid full-back Alvaro Odriozola – have also bolstered a previously imbalanced and paper-thin squad.
Whether that can help them to reverse their losing streak at Atalanta, though, remains to be seen.
Atalanta BC Serie A form:
Atalanta BC form (all competitions):
Fiorentina Serie A form:
Fiorentina form (all competitions):
We say: Atalanta BC 2-1 Fiorentina
Even if their attacking options have been reduced by injury, Atalanta should have enough residual firepower to take down Fiorentina on Saturday, as they are capable of taking numerous routes to goal – particularly down the flanks.
The visitors look to have a stronger squad than last season’s on paper, but it may take a few weeks for Vincenzo Italiano to settle everyone into his style of play, and they are likely to be undone at least once at the back.