Atalanta’s dream season has culminated by clinching a Europa League spot. This will be La Dea’s first time in Europe in 26 years. Their fans have celebrated with immense joy and rightfully so.
Atalanta entered the season with a new coach; Gian Piero Gasperini, and things didn’t start off on the right foot. Atalanta lost their first two games and 4 out of their first 5. A Europa League spot did not seem likely given their poor start. However, Atalanta turned it around by going on a 9-game unbeaten streak, which included wins against Napoli and Roma. Atalanta’s great form continued throughout the season and has now landed them in the Europa League. They had signature wins against Napoli (twice), Roma, and Inter, and drew against Juventus. Napoli have only lost 4 games in Serie A, half coming at the hands of Atalanta.
Atalanta got it done relying a lot on young talent; Franck Kessie, Andrea Conti, Mattia Caldara, Andrea Petagna, and several others. Their young talent caught the attention of many big clubs throughout Europe. Atalanta sold Roberto Gagliardini to Inter in January for around €25M. They also agreed to sell Caldara to Juventus for around €15M, however he will stay on loan at Atalanta for another season. Franck Kessie has been one of the most coveted young talents in all of football and it seems like he will either join Milan or Roma. Andrea Petagna has gone from a former Milan outcast, to a Serie B player, to contemplating retirement, to now a key part of Atalanta’s success. Andrea Conti has established himself as a dual-threat player; good defender and a serious goal scoring threat. Conti has scored 8 goals this season, more than any other defender in Europe’s top 5 leagues.
Andrea Conti had promised to dye his hair beach blonde if Atalanta qualified for the Europa League, and he is a man of his word.
To compliment all this young talent is their leader and captain Papu Gomez. The Argentine leads the team in goals (14) and assists (10). Papu Gomez has emerged as one of the best personalities in Serie A. If you are not following him on social media, you are missing out. Gomez’s future is in balance. He has stated his desire to play in the Champions League and for a big club, and is putting Atalanta in a tough place. Papu Gomez means so much to Atalanta, and if they want to be competitive in the Europa League next season, keeping him is vital. Sassuolo was last year’s surprise team and they qualified for the Europa League. They crashed out of the Europa League and did not have the Serie A season many expected, Atalanta does not want that to happen to them next season.
Gian Piero Gasperini has been rewarded with a new contract, tying him to the Bergamaschi club for another three years. Gasperini’s former club Genoa, are finding out that life without him is not so great. Genoa are in 16th place with 33 points and are not yet cleared of relegation. Genoa’s loss has been Atalanta’s gain.
Atalanta has not finished in the top half of the standings ever since their return to Serie A in the 2011 season. This year, they will finish in the top 5, a remarkable season. The Europa League awaits Atalanta.