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Can Atalanta drive a nail in PSG’s coffin?

If you are an avid follower of football you might have heard about this Italian club making headlines in recent weeks. Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio commonly referred to as Atalanta B.C., finished 3rd in the Italian League, just behind Inter Milan and champions Juventus.

The club finished in the third position last season as well and qualified for the UEFA Champions League, which was the first time they took part in one of the most popular and prestigious sporting events in the world. Their most important and the only silverware they have won is the Coppa Italia during the 1962/63 season and there is certain optimism around their fans that they might as nick the greatest club-football trophy this season.

In 2016 Gian Piero Gasperini was appointed as the new coach of this club. Although it took some time for the players to truly understand Gasperini’s tactics they finished the 2016/17 season at 4th position. Atalanta qualified for the round of 16 of UCL after a 3-0 away win against Shaktar. They later qualified for the quarter-finals after a 4-3 win in the second leg against Valencia. The Italian club have scored a record 98 goals in the Serie A this season making them the only team in the history of Serie  A to reach such feat.

Also Read: Erling Haaland: Dortmund academy’s next crowning jewel?

Papu Gomez – The driving force of Atalanta’s attack

Whilst the likes of Hateboer and Gossens provide great assistance from the wider areas, it is their extremely talented attacking players who make a significant difference. Gasperini plays with three-at-the-back, with both wing-backs always high up the pitch, trying to press the opposition and provide crosses into the box for the likes of Zapata, Gomez and Illicic to pounce on. Alejandro Gomez, popularly known as Papu Gomez, has the highest goal contribution this season for Atalanta and he is the engine driving the entire team.

He has scored 7 goals in Serie A and provided 16 assists this season. In UCL, he scored once and provided 2 assists. A total of 26 goal contribution has been made by Papu Gomez this season.

Josep Illicic has the same amount of contribution this season as Papu Gomez, 26. Although Illicic has brilliantly faired this season at Atalanta he is set to miss the upcoming clash in the Champions League with French giants PSG. The reason is unclear for the 32-year-old forward to miss the upcoming match. Gasperini confirmed Illicic will miss out on the match on the 12th of August.

Atalanta has conceded 48 goals in the 38 matches they have been involved in Serie A. Their Goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini has the second-highest appearances this season, 33. He made 78 saves in the 2,884 minutes he played this season and has maintained 8 clean sheets in total.

Josep Illicic will definitely be missed at Atalanta for the upcoming Champions League clash. But the brilliant support from Papu Gomez and clinical finishes from Duvan Zapata, Atalanta feel like the underdogs of this year’s UCL. PSG also recently confirmed Kylian Mbappe won’t be in the squad for the clash with Atalanta. Adding to their woes, Marco Verratti is highly likely to miss the game as well.

Two main players of the teams are out of the squad. This surely levels the playing field. Zapata, Gomez, Muriel Luis can be a real burden in PSG’s defense. Same goes for Neymar and Icardi, they could cause plenty of problems for Atalanta’s defense with the skipper the Brazilian possesses and the undying hunger of the Argentine to get at into goal-scoring positions.

Atalanta have three games left to win Europe’s biggest prize and they definitely will face still competition, beginning with this game against the French champions. However, this is perhaps the finest opportunity they will ever receive to lay hands on silverware and there are very few people denying a possibility of them lifting the trophy.

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