Gianluca Scamacca inspired Atalanta to a defiant, dominating 3-0 victory against Liverpool away at Anfield in their Europa League quarter-final first leg on Thursday evening. Here are three talking points ahead of next week’s reverse fixture in Bergamo. 

Scamacca and the Italy national team 

The former West Ham and Sassuolo striker enjoyed what was probably the best and most noteworthy performance of his career to date on Thursday night. A perfectly well-rounded centre-forward’s performance, he was in the right place at the right time to bury two first-half finishes either side of the interval and was heavily involved in creating La Dea’s third, as well as linking up neatly with his supporting cast for most of the evening. He is now up to five goals in five matches in all competitions, having found the net against Cagliari and Napoli in Serie A and against Sporting CP in Atalanta’s last European outing. Somewhat surprisingly, he was left out of the most recent Italy national team squad for friendlies in the United States against Ecuador and Venezuela, and it was Genoa’s Mateo Retegui who shone in his absence. Though Luciano Spalletti is not necessarily spoilt for choices at centre-forward, Scamacca’s performance against Liverpool surely confirms that he must be part of the squad, arguably as a starter come the Euro 2024 tournament in Germany this summer. 

Underrated Gasperini does it again at Anfield 

Gian Piero Gasperini has now won both of the two matches he has been involved in at Anfield, the last coming in the Champions League group stages in 2020 with a 2-0 thanks to strikes from Josip Ilicic and Robin Gosens. Though they lost 5-0 in Bergamo a few weeks later, Thursday night’s victory means the Atalanta gaffer now has an equal aggregate score of 5-5 from his three encounters with the six-time European champions. Now close to the conclusion of his eighth season with La Dea, a rare feat for a coach in the modern era, Gasp is pushing for yet another finish in the Serie A Champions League spots. Perhaps it is due to the fact that he has spent his entire coaching career in Italy that he does not quite get the recognition he deserves internationally. 

Recruitment conveyor belt in Bergamo 

Naturally, Gasperini, his players and his coaching staff deserve all the praise they get for Thursday’s 3-0 win, but a word should also go out to the recruitment team. Over the course of the 2023-24 season, Atalanta have raised almost twice as much as they have spent in transfer fees. A major part of that was the record-breaking sale of Rasmus Hojlund to Manchester United, but with that cash, they were able to bring in Thursday’s man of the match, Scamacca, for around €25m. Ademola Lookman, who was not involved on Thursday, has also gone from strength to strength under Gasperini’s tutelage. Taking a punt on Charles De Ketelaere has paid off surprisingly well and the low-cost signings of Isak Hien and Sead Kolasinac have also fitted in seamlessly. And, as Thursday’s performance has proved, it is no wonder there are so many clubs sniffing around Bergamo for some of Atalanta’s top performers, especially the Juventus and Premier League-linked Teun Koopmeiners. 

Player Ratings: Liverpool 0-3 Atalanta – Scamacca message for Spalletti as La Dea stun Anfield

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