Everything Liverpool Fans Need to Know About Atalanta

2019 Champions League winners Liverpool have made a strong start to life in this season's competition, winning their opening two Group D matches.

The Reds travel to Bergamo to take on Serie A outfit Atalanta in gameweek three, having backed up an impressive 1-0 victory away to Ajax with a laboured 2-0 win over Midtjylland at Anfield, leaving them two points clear of their goal hungry Serie A opponents.

Gian Piero Gasperini's charges are still relatively new on the European scene, but have been transformed under their coach over the past four years and are now one of the most feared attacking sides on the continent.

Gasperini has got Atalanta playing exciting football | Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

The veteran Italian has guided La Dea to consecutive third place finishes in Serie A, and came within a whisker of beating Paris Saint-Germain in last season's Champions League quarter-finals. Their exciting brand of football has got everybody talking, but not everybody has had a chance to do their research in detail.

Don't worry if that's the case, 90min is here to fill in the blanks.

Are They Actually Good?

Atalanta have several top-class stars | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Yes, is the short answer.

Gasperini was appointed in 2016 with the remit of keeping the club in Serie A. but the 62-year-old has far exceeded expectations at the Gewiss Stadium - transforming Atalanta into one of Italian football's most dangerous forces.

Despite having a much smaller budget than that of their more affluent rivals, Atalanta have finished fourth, seventh and third twice during Gasperini's reign. He has also led the Nerazzurri to two Europa League appearances, a Coppa Italia final and their first Champions League campaign.

The club is enjoying the most successful period in their history, and Liverpool will have to be at their best to come away with anything from this match.

Changes From Last Season

Sam Lammers has scored twice since joining Atalanta in the summer | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

There wasn't a great deal of activity in or out of Atalanta over the summer, but there were a few key moves to keep an eye on.

Their impressive form over the last few years has seen numerous young stars move on to traditionally bigger sides in Serie A, with the likes of AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan snapping up prospects such as Frank Kessie, Alessandro Bastoni and Dejan Kulusevski. But their Champions League exploits last season caught the eye of Premier League teams.

Castagne has started life in England well | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Full-back Timothy Castagne moved to Leicester City, and 18-year-old academy graduate Amad Diallo Traore made a £37m switch to Manchester United - which will be formalised in January - despite only making three substitute appearances for his boyhood club.

They were replaced primarily by Russian midfielder Aleksey Miranchuk, who has yet to make an appearance for Atalanta since arriving from Lokomotiv Moscow, and Dutch striker Sam Lammers, who has bagged two goals in his first five games.

Current Danger Men

Most of Atalanta's good play goes through Papu Gomez | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Atalanta have an abundance of attacking stars that any potential opponent would find hard to deal with. 32-year-old Slovenia striker Josip Ilicic was in fine form last season, notching up 21 goals and nine assists in all competitions, however, he's yet to get off the mark in 2020/21.

That's where the good news ends for Liverpool fans though. Most of Atalanta's good play comes through their diminutive club captain Papu Gomez, and the creative midfielder has already got five goals and three assists to his name in just eight games.

Centre-forward pair Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel bagged 19 goals apiece throughout the previous campaign and have started the new season in a similar fashion. Five goals each in a combined 15 matches is a strike force to rival any across Europe.

How's it Going This Season?

Atalanta recovered from rare back-to-back defeats in Serie A, courtesy of Sampdoria and Napoli, to win 2-1 at Crotone over the weekend.

The win means Gasperini's men jump up to fourth position, just four points behind early pace-setters AC Milan. A 2-2 draw with Ajax in gameweek two, where Atalanta came back from two goals down, was proceeded by an opening day 4-0 win over Midtylland in Denmark leaving them with four points in Group D.

What Can We Expect From the Manager?

Gasperini has won many plaudits for his brave attacking style at Atalanta | Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Atalanta's tactics are based around a flexible 3-4-1-2 formation. Zapata and Ilicic are typically the main goal threats, but Muriel and Gomez offer just as big a threat.

Gasperini likes his team to rotate positions, primarily through patterned play based around a diamond, and to overload the wide areas. This vacates space in the middle of the pitch, leading to numerous goalscoring opportunities that his attacking players usually make the most of.

Atalanta were by far the highest scorers in Serie A last season, bagging an incredible 98 goals, while Juventus, for context, managed just 76, despite winning yet another domestic title.

Record in Europe

Paris Saint-Germain's last-minute winner in the Champions League Quarter Final left Atalanta heartbroken last season | David Ramos/Getty Images

Atalanta don't have a long and rich history on the European stage. The club has participated in the Europa League on four occasions, with their best result coming in the 1990/91 season when they reached the quarter-finals.

When they have played continental football though, their record has been relatively impressive. On their return to Europe after 16 years Atalanta topped a Europa League group containing Lyon, Everton and Apollon Limassol and last season, they escaped from a Champions League group involving Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb.

They went on to beat La Liga outfit Valencia 8-4 on aggregate in the last 16 before falling to PSG at the quarter-finals stage, despite dominating their more illustrious opponents for most of the game.

Source : 90min