Gian Piero Gasperini, the manager of Atalanta, has labeled their upcoming two games as “decisive” in their pursuit of European football qualification. With two points separating the Black and Blues from fourth place Inter Milan after back to back victories, some supporters are even dreaming of the Black and Blues reaching the Champions League for just the fourth time in the club’s history. The Black and Blues are now in seventh position in the Serie A rankings.
For the first time since September, Gasperini is cautioning his team not to look too far ahead as they attempt to secure a third straight league victory. Atalanta should be optimistic about picking up another victory at home, where they have five victories in their past eight games (D1, L2) across all competitions.
Visitors Spezia will be hoping to break that streak because they are in danger of having their three years stay in the Italian top division end after a dismal run of just one win in 14 league games (D6, L7) following a 2-0 loss at home to Monza. Due to their poor play, they dropped to 17th position in the standings at the end of the previous round, above the relegation zone due to their better H2H record with Hellas Verona. Even the appointment of a new manager hasn’t been able to turn things around thus far.
Leonardo Semplici, the current boss, has been in charge since the end of February and he boldly asserted that his team “have the means to save ourselves.” The Little Eagles will need to make some history, though, since they have gone six games without a win on the road (D4, L2), and they have never defeated Atalanta away from home (D2, L7).
Rafael Tolói, the captain of Atalanta, is unbeaten against Spezia in five prior meetings (W3, D2), with at least four goals scored in each of those games. Bartlomiej Dragowski, the opposing goalie, has given up at least two goals in four of his previous five head to head matches (W1, D1, L3), thus goals are expected when he meets Atalanta as well.
Duvan Zapata, who scored Atalanta’s late victory at Torino after being inserted as an early second half substitute, will be a possible replacement for Rasmus Hojlund under Gasperini’s plan.
Although Gasperini will be against making too many changes to a winning team, Jose Luis Palomino might also be included in the Atalanta XI.
Meanwhile, Arkadiusz Reca and Kevin Agudelo are in the running to return at left back and in the final third, so Semplici may decide to change up his Spezia team.
Przemyslaw Wisniewski may lose out to Dimitrios Nikolaou in the midst of the defense.
Winger Emmanuel Gyasi is one caution away from serving a suspension, so that possibility might be taken into account.
Possible starting lineup for Atalanta
Sportiello, Toloi, Djimsiti, Scalvini, Maehle, De Roon, Ederson, Zappacosta, Koopmeiners, Pasalic and Zapata.
Possible starting lineup for Spezia
Dragowski, Amian, Ampadu, Nikolaou, Reca, Ekdal, Esposito, Kovalenko, Gyasi, Shomurodov and Verde.
We predict: Atalanta 2-0 Spezia
Atalanta are starting to play better at the ideal time, whereas Spezia are growing more determined to snap their losing streak. When we take into account these factors, we can only imagine the home team winning with ease.