2008/09 – Atalanta enjoyed a successful last campaign, considering the Bergamo-based club have been back in the top flight for two seasons, many critics wrote off the Orobici’s chances of staying in Serie A. Despite this Atalanta prevailed, exceeding their targets managing a solid 11th place. The Nerazzurri have built a reputation for being a tricky team to beat, during the 2008/09 season they upset some of the big clubs in Italy. Luigi Del Neri’s side could have been in the race to secure a European spot had his side mirrored their efforts against the bigger clubs and translated it against the rest of the clubs, with their form away from home was not so great. Nevertheless, 2008/09 season will be considered as a good campaign for Atalanta.
2009/10 – This season marks one significant change for la Dea, and that is in the form of new manager Angelo Gregucci formerly of Vicenza, taking over from Luigi Del Neri at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia. It will be very interesting to see what results Gregucci will bring to Atalanta considering he does not have the managerial depth of Del Neri. The Atalanta squad is relatively unchanged since last year with the loan of young Robert Acquafresca from Genoa should providing some goal-scoring inspiration for the Orobici.
Miguel Arturo Layun Prado – Veracruz – loan
Robert Acquafresca – Genoa – loan
Edgar Barreto – Reggina – £5m
Fabio Caserta – Lecce – undisclosed
Simone Tiribocchi – Lecce – undisclosed
Michele Marconi – U.S. Grosseto F.C. – loan
Marino Defendi – Lecce – loan
Alessio Manzoni – Parma – undisclosed
Daniele Gasparetto – Padova – undisclosed
Sergio Floccari – Genoa – undisclosed
First XI – Under Gigi Del Neri the Orobici played under a 4-4-2 formation, It wouldn’t be surprising to see Angelo Gregucci use the same method due to the nature of the players at Atalanta. The main change will be up front with Robert Acquafresca replacing Marino Defendi who will be at loan at Lecce until 2010. The strength of this squad lies in the midfield with experienced players such as Cristiano Doni and Fabio Caserta in the middle of the park, and youth upfront in the form of Acquafresca. Due to the size of the Atalanta squad the Coach will have to be wary when applying tactics as an injury to a key player can plague La Dea’s season as they do not have the depth in their ranks.
5 Manfredini – 6 Bellini – 2 Talamonti – 8 Garics
72 Doni – 22 Padoin – 18 Caserta – 17 Guarente
90 Tiribocchi – 9 Acquafresca
The Coach – Since Atalanta’s return to top-flight Italian football, Gigi Del Neri has been the mastermind behind the Bergamo team’s positive results and after enjoying two campaigns finishing 9th and 11th respectively it was no surprise to see Del Neri move on to the greater challenge at Sampdoria. In contrast new Coach Angelo Gregucci is younger and less experienced in the top flight. Gregucci however has had experience with Fiorentina back in 2000 as Roberto Mancini’s assistant. As Gregucci is a relatively new Coach to Serie A it will be very difficult to predict what kind of game Gregucci will bring, although one thing is for sure Gregucci has demonstrated great desire and intent during pre season.
Team/reliable player– Atalanta’s most reliable player has to be Cristiano Doni. The seasoned midfielder is a regular for the side and at present carries the captain’s armband. He brings experience and knowledge to the Orobici’s game having played for some big clubs in both La Liga and Serie A. At 36-years-old, the Italian is the most influential player in the squad and a leader on the pitch.
Creative force – The departures of Sergio Floccari and Luca Cigarini have left a void in the creative ranks within Atalanta, however this season Adriano Ferreira Pinto will have the chance to have more creative freedom. Last campaign the 30-year-old Brazilian finished third highest top scorer behind Floccari and Doni so expect to see the creative forward to be a regular name in the starting eleven.
Youth prospect – Already tipped by some as the new Filippo Inzaghi, Robert Acquafresca will have no problem breaking into la Dea’s squad due to his speed and prowess. This term he could really excel with little competition looking to take his place. With the nature of Atalanta’s squad he should be an instant hit in his loan spell in Bergamo. He is an exceptional presence in the box, and is no doubt one of Italy’s hottest future prospects. The 22-year-old will be one to watch this season.
The fixtures – Atalanta picked up some vital points drawing and even beating some big clubs, so it will be very interesting to see how Atalanta fare against the likes of Inter, as last season the games between the two Nerazzurris of the Italian league have been close. Atalanta will face Inter at home on December 13. Their first test of the new campaign will come in Week 1’s clash with Lazio.
Home grown talent – Atalanta have one of the highest percentages of Italian players in Serie A, currently 95% of the whole squad is Italian.
Predictions – When looking at Atalanta you cannot help but be impressed with the achievements of a squad that lacks star players and finances. Since their return to Serie A back in 2007 they have silenced critics who labelled them relegation battlers, instead shocking some of the more established teams, never looking in danger of relegation. They have cemented their reputation for being a tough opponent, however the problem for Atalanta lies in the fact that they can not replicate their ‘giant-killer’ form against some of the other clubs. If they find their form the Bergamo outfit may finish mid-table and perhaps qualify for a European spot. Given the arrival of Acquafresca and a new Coach, Atalanta will have a fresher approach to their games and if some of Atalanta’s key players can remain injury free we could see them finish even higher.