Giampiero Gasperini plays arguably the biggest game in his managerial career today. After having started the season so poorly that the Italian was said to be on the verge of a sack that no one expected, Gasperini’s Atalanta are now close to doing what was called ‘the impossible’.
La Dea had picked up only one win from their first eight games in the Serie A campaign, losing four and drawing three. They even lost two in their next seven games and stumbled on track around the end of the year. They picked up a crucial win over Lazio and had hammered Sassuolo 6-2 away from home. This had come weeks after a big 4-1 win over Inter Milan, showing that Gasperini’s men have the ability to prove their mettle against the bigger sides.
During this period, Roma struggled and Milan went through a good phase, as they signed Krzysztof Piątek from Genoa. Lazio fell off form. But soon after March, Milan’s form faded and Atalanta acquired the best run of form amongst all the other top four challengers. They beat Napoli, beat Sampdoria and Fiorentina. The win over Lazio also helped them put the biancocelesti out of the top four race.
Since the beginning of March, Atalanta are yet to lose a game. The only game they have lost since then is the Coppa Italia final, as Simone Inzaghi’s men beat them 2-0, thanks to a couple of second half goals.
But today, the biggest game of their campaign comes at the most crucial point of the season. With Juventus now having confirmed that Massimiliano Allegri will leave at the end of the campaign, they could well be a bunch of wounded tigers who would want to avenge their Cup loss to La Dea from earlier in the campaign. More than that, they’d aim to give Allegri a memorable sending off.
A loss for Atalanta may not be disastarous for Atalanta, especially because Roma were held to a 0-0 draw at Sassuolo. But with AC Milan to face a favorable foe in Frosinone later today, La Dea must treat the game in Turin to be a must win one.
Also, with Inter facing Napoli in the clash of two big names, Atalanta will know that if the nerazzurri slip up, they will have to win to all but ensure themselves a place in the top four of the league.
With Torino facing relegation-threatened Empoli, a drop of points by the Il Toro will mean the end of all top four hopes mathematically. With a game against Lazio to be played next weekend, they just have to win it.
It will be a brilliant way to cap off what has been a remarkable season for Atalanta. With rumors linking Gasperini with a move to Roma and AC Milan, it could well turn out to be the perfect sending off for the Italian. The way they started off, no one expected them to comeback the way they have. Finishing in the top four will be a cherry on the cake and winning in Turin will all but help them put one hand in the Champions League pot.