Serie A season review, Atalanta: La Dea fall short

by | May 23, 2022 14:06

Position: 8

Points: 59

Compared to last season: -19 points (3rd)

Season overview

It was possibly the first time people expected Atalanta to be contenders for the top four and perhaps underdogs in the Scudetto race. Signing players like Davide Zappacosta and Jeremy Boga (in January) seemed clever moves from La Dea, who added more options and quality to an already very versatile group. The season started very well, continuing the form from recent seasons and producing brave and attacking football. They found themselves in 3rd place, not too many points behind Inter and Milan midway through the season, but a poor home record and a disappointing run of form in 2022 saw Gian Piero Gasperini’s boys fail to get a European spot for the first time since the 64-year-old arrived at the club in 2016.

Turning point of the season

The main turning point was a 4-1 defeat against Roma in Bergamo in December. It was the first time Atalanta showed they were probably not as intimidating as in previous seasons. José Mourinho’s boys dominated in Bergamo against a direct rival and things went uphill since. January onwards proved difficult for ‘La Dea’ and the absences started to be missed. The main three were Josip Illicic, struggling with mental health problems, Robin Gosen’s being transferred to Inter and Duvan Zapata, the target man who missed three months due to a hamstring injury. Atalanta were not as predictable as in the past in the final third and went all in for a Champions League spot, trying to win the Europa League. They failed and were eventually eliminated by RB Leipzig in the quarter-finals.

Coach – Gian Piero Gasperini

It seems like a refresh and a few changes are needed for Atalanta to begin a new impressive cycle of results. It is difficult to question Gasperini especially when you think that 8th place now for Atalanta is almost disappointing, so it shows how far they have come as a club. During the season, many things changed at the club, including Stephen Pagliuca acquiring a 55% stake in the club in February. Atalanta CEO Andrea Percassi has confirmed Gasp will remain in charge next season, but this season must have taught the boss something. For example, if there are lot of injuries, wouldn’t it be wiser to change the style to something more conservative to protect your team defensively?

Player of the year – Luis Muriel

Not having Josip Ilicic and Zapata for large portions of the season increased the pressure on the remaining player from the attacking trio, Luis Muriel. He contributed to 17 goals, scoring nine and delivering eight assists. He wasn’t as decisive as in the previous campaign, but he had all the pressure on his shoulders. He wasn’t the top goalscorer, with Mario Pasalic managing an impressive 13 goals from midfield but Muriel’s naturally ability to occupy more than one defender has been a threat every team has been worried about all season.

Disappointing player of the year – Hans Hateboer

Hans Hateboer has been a key player for Gasperini and Atalanta, dominating the right flank up and down, causing problems for the opposition. This season he didn’t contribute on the offensive side, which has also contributed to Atalanta struggling to keep up at the top. He struggled with a bad injury early in the season and it seems he hasn’t found his performance levels since he returned. Atalanta have missed him dearly and will need the best version of Hateboer back in 2022-23 to chase a European place again.

Piero Mingoia

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