Atalanta has enjoyed a superb season so far, currently placed in sixth in Serie A. After Sunday’s impressive 2-0 win over Cagliari we decided to take another look at the team from Bergamo excelling in Gian Piero Gasperini’s 3-4-3 system.

Shape

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The team defends as above, in a 3-4-1-2 shape with the ball high and in a 5-2-1-2 when deeper. The key difference to when they’re attacking is the positioning of Jasmin Kurtic, here the “1” behind the two forwards Andrea Petagna and Alejandro Gomez.

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When going forward, the shape becomes 3-4-3 with wing backs (in red) Andrea Conti on the right and Leonardo Spinazzola on the left, pushing up and Gomez dropping in to the left half space with Kurtic moving into the right half space.

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Here we see the start of the build up with Kurtic in the centre circle on his way into the right half space to overload the right hand side with Conti as we will come to later.

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Atalanta use a very positionally focused style of play, where the only real change of positioning is between wing backs and forwards. They use the full width of the pitch excellently.

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One more image of the attacking shape, where we can now see Kurtic and Gomez either side of Petagna up front. Spinazzola (circled in red) is providing the width on the left.

The Gomez-Spinazzola Connection

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Down the left side, Spinazzola and Gomez have a lot of freedom in how they move. They consistently change position in regards to who attacks centrally and who stays wide. Usually, Spinazzola provide the width with Gomez in the left half space, but as the image above highlights, this can change. Here Gomez drifts wide, with Spinazzola in the left half space in order to occupy a different vertical zone than Gomez.

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Spinazzola is extremely talented in terms of running with the ball and dribbling, consistently breaking opposition lines in this way. Here he attacks central space with Gomez wide, overloading the Cagliari right back and creating a 2 v 1.

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Here’s the opposite from above, with Gomez cutting in and Spinazzola on the overlap. Gomez scored two in the game and this way his second, beautifully curling the ball home. Needless to say, he was helped by Spinazzola’s overlapping run. Their combination is one of the key’s to Atalanta’s effective attacking and impressing wing play.

Kurtic and Conti overload the right

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On the opposite side, academy product Andrea Conti has been a revelation this season. He always stays wide, and is helped by Kurtic role in the right half space to overload the opposing left back.

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Here we can see how Kurtic has moved into the right half space, picked up the ball and can put Conti in a 1 v 1. Conti attacked the left back, put a low cross in and Gomez scored to give Atalanta the lead.

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Here, Kurtic drifts wide to create a 2 v 1 with Conti.

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Poor defending of the half space from Cagliari which gives Kurtic plenty of time on the ball…
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… and his inch-perfect pass reaches Conti in behind the defence. Unfortunately, the cross let the youngster down this time.

width
Just once more highlighting the excellent positioning of this Atalanta. The wing backs along with the forwards create a numerical superiority of 5 v 4 against the back four, often forcing the opposing wide midfielders to drop deeper, which in turn opens up more space centrally for wider centre backs in the back three or the central midfielders to exploit. Spinazzola (circled in red) and Conti (red) are absolutely key to this with their quality in wide areas.

Conclusion

Gasperini has implemented an impressive positional game on his young side and, despite the sale of Roberto Gagliardini in January, they continue to impress. Most importantly, they pick up results too. Against Cagliari, the key was overloading of the flanks, which the wing backs, Kurtic and Gomez duly did and Cagliari couldn’t handle the pace of the home side. Sixth place is an incredible achievement from Atalanta, how long can they keep this going?

Giro d’Italia

Ilija Nestorovski has been impressive all season and was the difference as Palermo beat Crotone in Sicily. After tremendous work by Carlos Embalo, Nestorovski placed his finish well and secured three points for Palermo.

There’s now two clean sheets in a row for Chievo as they followed up thier shock 1-0 win at Lazio to draw 0-0 at home to Udinese. Nothing more to report from that one.

Sampdoria followed their brilliant 3-2 win over Roma with another impressive win, this time at San Siro against a self-imploding Milan. After their fine start to the season, Vincenzo Montellas men are going off the rails. They really need to wake up if they are even going to have a chance of making the Europa League for next season. For Samp, it was another fantastic result and Luis Muriel scored again. The sun is shining everyday now for Marco Giampaolo.

His counterpart across town, however, is trapped in a thunderstorm. Ivan Juric’ Genoa lost again, as Lorenzo Pellegrini’s brilliant volley won the game for Sassuolo. Genoa has mixed great with terrible this season, and this loss means they are now SEVEN games without a win. They can count themselves lucky that the distance to the relegation zone is too big. It is, isn’t it?

Juventus won a tight and tense Derby d’Italia against Inter thanks to Juan Cuadrado’s incredible winner. The Colombian’s thunderbolt from just outside the penalty area sealed a huge win at the top of the table as Juve heaped pressure on Roma ahead of their clash with Fiorentina. Inter’s brilliant run came to an end, but losing at Juve (28 wins in a row at home) is no disaster. The key is how they react.

Napoli were sensational at Bologna and highlighted why they are the most entertaining team in Europe at present. Marek Hamsik and Dries Mertens added a hattrick a piece to a Lorenzo Insigne strike to seal a 7-1 thumping in Bologna as they sent their fans to seventh heaven (not sorry). Mertens now has 13 goals in his last eight games, and 16 in the league in total which makes him the new Serie A top scorer.

Torino really should have beaten at Empoli on Sunday if not for the heavily rain-ruined pitch. Andrea Belotti had given the visitors the lead from an Adem Ljajic free-kick but Arlind Ajeti’s back pass got stuck in a water puddle which gave Manuel Pucciarelli the chance to equalise which he did indeed. Heartbreaking for Mihajlovic.

Marco Parolo was the main man in Serie A this week as the midfielder scored FOUR goals at Pescara to hand Lazio a welcome win after two straight defeats. Parolo opened the scoring with two early strikes to put Lazio in a commanding lead. A strong response from Pescara saw a goal from Ahmad Benali, a penalty miss from Gianluca Caprari (incredibly, another penalty missed by Pescara this season) and a wonderful volley by Gaston Brugman to equalise. In the second half, however, Lazio added another four goals as Baldé Keita and Ciro Immobile struck as well as a further two from Parolo.

 

Player of the week
If you play in central midfield and score three goals, you’re usually player of the week. However, Marek Hamsik misses out because Marco Parolo bettered him and scored four at Pescara for Lazio.

Coach of the week
Marco Giampaolo masterminded another impressive win for Sampdoria in their 1-0 defeat of Milan at San Siro.

Goal of the week
Juan Cuadrado. Take a bow.

Results
Bologna-Napoli 1-7
Milan-Sampdoria 0-1
Genoa-Sassuolo 0-1
Chievo-Udinese 0-0
Empoli-Torino 1-1
Pescara-Lazio 2-6
Atalanta-Cagliari 2-0
Juventus-Inter 1-0
Palermo-Crotone 1-0
Roma-Fiorentina TUESDAY

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