Fresh from advancing to the last 16 of the Europa League, Atalanta BC return to Serie A action with the visit of Sampdoria to the Gewiss Stadium on Monday night.
While Gian Piero Gasperini’s side were busy seeing off Olympiacos in midweek, their visitors have had a week to reflect on their 2-0 success over Empoli.
The less said about Atalanta’s recent domestic fortunes the better, but Gasperini’s side returned to their free-scoring ways to sink Olympiacos 5-1 on aggregate in the Europa League playoff round and keep their hopes of continental glory alive.
In the absence of Colombian counterparts Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel, Ukraine’s Ruslan Malinovskyi took it upon himself to score two of his side’s goals in a 3-0 second-leg win before revealing a message of solidarity to those back home caught up in the dreadful conflicts, with his two quickfire efforts coming after Joakim Maehle’s opener.
The Dea faithful sure were desperate for such a convincing showing amid their side’s downward spiral in Serie A, with the absence of key figures through injury seeing Atalanta go winless in five Serie A games and crash out of the Coppa Italia to Fiorentina.
Having taken just three points from the last 15 on offer domestically – most recently going down again to Fiorentina 1-0 in top-flight action – Gasperini’s side find themselves outside the Champions League spots in fifth but just six points adrift of Juventus, who have played two games more.
Furthermore, the Europa League hopefuls can only boast a paltry tally of three league wins from 13 attempts at the Gewiss Stadium this term and have failed to win in four top-flight games at home, so Sampdoria may sense an opportunity to upset the odds.
The days of timeless veteran Fabio Quagliarella enjoying double-figure goal tallies in Serie A may be behind him, but the 39-year-old demonstrated that he still has the golden touch to propel Sampdoria to victory over Empoli last Saturday.
Quagliarella struck twice before the 30-minute mark to put Marco Giampaolo’s side in control before the break, and the striker saw out the final half hour of the game from the bench as Sampdoria marched to their second win in the space of three games.
Serving Sassuolo a slice of humble pie with a 4-0 romping and only going down 1-0 to AC Milan at San Siro has marked a rather significant upturn in fortunes for this Sampdoria side under Giampaolo, whose team occupy 15th spot in the table heading into this game but are by no means clear of danger – sitting four points clear of the dotted line.
The new manager bounce appears to be in full swing for I Blucerchiati, and reversing a dismal spell of fortunes away from home is Giampaolo’s next task, as Sampdoria have suffered three consecutive 1-0 defeats in Serie A on the road and will need Quagliarella to defy his age once more if they are to stand a chance at the Gewiss Stadium.
Sampdoria do have fond memories of their most recent trip to Atalanta’s turf – marching to a 3-1 win in October 2020 – but Gasperini’s side responded with victory by the same scoreline at Luigi Ferraris 12 months later.
Atalanta BC Serie A form:
Atalanta BC form (all competitions):
Sampdoria Serie A form:
Sampdoria form (all competitions):
We say: Atalanta BC 2-1 Sampdoria
Atalanta’s depleted attack and thinned options in defence makes it hard to imagine a traditional Dea romping, especially with the Gewiss Stadium not being kind to them so far this term.
However, Giampaolo is yet to inspire a change in Sampdoria’s winless and scoreless away form and has his own absent players to work around, so we have faith in the hosts to build on their stellar European showing and halt the Blucerchiati momentum in a closely-fought battle.