Serie A Preview Part 5: European Spots 6-4 #602

6. Atalanta


Atalanta last season put together one of the biggest Underdog stories in the history of Italian football. This team used to be a team that failed even to play in Serie A. Over the last several years we’ve seen an emergence of a team capable of playing Europe. Behind the Brilliance of Gasparini, he has led Atalanta to a top-eight finish in 3 consecutive seasons. However, with all that being said last season was particularly special Atalanta made champions league for the first time in their club’s history. They were Italy’s highest-scoring team with an attack that would make your mouth water. They secured a top-three finish finishing ahead of teams like Milan Inter Roma Lazio and others. It was a season to remember something that will be incredibly difficult to recreate in fact I don’t believe they will ever have a better season. However, Atalanta will pull back this season With Champions League football this season it is going to be nearly impossible to juggle three different competitions. They have a lot of returning players coming back for next week the question is whether or not they can play it to the same consistency they played last season. Duvan Zapata was the best player in the entire league last year coming out of nowhere. Scoring 28 goals in all competitions that included goals against every team in the top 6 he was just something else last year. They haven’t lost too many pieces but they lost enforcing pieces. Gianluca Mancini one of the best center-halfs in Italian football last season went to Roma. Outside of that, they didn’t lose too much but that is a really significant loss he not only contributed defensively but in the attack and on set-pieces he was incredibly effective being the second-highest scoring defender last season. It will be too complex play Champions League football and do enough to return to the competition next season. They will still have an opportunity to play in Europe but it will be in the Europa League. Defensively they will not be as good despite having a solid piece in Hans Hateboer. We should see an Another strong midfield led by one of the best midfielders in Italy Remo Freuler who could emerge as one of the leaders of this team in the Champions League this season as well as in the league. In addition to that, the attack will be as lethal as it was before at least on paper. They have brought in another piece to join their attack of Papu Gomez. Ollic and Duvan Zapata. They have signed Luis Muriel who spent last season on loan at Florentina. This team will be top-heavy with the potential to score a lot of goals this season but given the fact that they’re going to have to juggle Champions League football, I’m just not sure they’re ready for that challenge. It will still be a positive campaign for Atalanta. Bergamo is still going to a hard place to win games. They are still capable of getting into the champions league. I’m not suggesting it’s not plausible but in the end, I think they’ll drop back a little bit but still maintain their place in the top six.





AC Milan fell just short of Champions League football last season they were just moments away from it. Before Inter Milan their Rivals snatched it right from under them. The fact of the matter is they had plenty of opportunities to get that spot. There have been some changes at AC Milan Leonardo a sporting director left for PSG Gennaro Gattuso was relieved of his duties as manager & Patrick Cutrone left for Wolves. They brought in Sampdoria’s Gianpaolo as the manager who has a great future at AC Milan. Every single season they’re going to be expectations of Champions League football just because of the brand of AC Milan. They are capable of getting the Champions League this season but I think they’re going to fall just short of that. They have a lot of good things in place a solid defense that probably still needs improving a consistent Striker up top and Piatek with attacking options such as Suso and Rafael Leao. This team is certainly good enough for top 5 next season and could push Champions League football but there are too many uncertainties about this team. However, they do have some things in their advantage they are not going to be in any European competition next season which gives them the opportunity not be distracted by other things. There are some key pieces in this team that I like the Midfield is a concern but they have Franck Kessie who is capable of putting in some very impressive performances. They also have brought in Ishmael Bennacer who gives them depth in a Midfield that lost Bakayoko who I felt was one of their best players last year. It can be productive especially with Paqueta. I’m less concerned about their attacking options and their backline and let’s not forget Gigi Donnarumma is still very solid in the Milan net. This team still lacks a consistent midfielder that’s the major concern. All in all, I was incredibly disappointed with Milan’s transfer window I saw it, for the most part, it was atrocious. Lucas Hernandez may be a good player but he is not on that level that everyone seems to think he is. I watch a lot of La Liga he didn’t pop I wouldn’t describe him as box office. However, I like the signing of Rafael Leao he is sneaky good and at such a young age he will create a partnership with their polish star out of the gate and I think he will be viewed as one of their better decisions made this summer. All Things Considered this team has enough quality to make a champions league and due to the fact that they are going to be without Champions League football or any European competition they will be focused throughout but I’m afraid they just lack a little too much for Champions League football which will be the expectation this season, there is still a gap in comparison to their counterparts its not a huge gap but the gap is still there Milan stay in the same spot from a year ago but will continue to develop.



4. Roma


There has been a lot of changes at Roma since the start of the summer. When the season ended the club could not have been in any worse shape. There was controversy in regards to the board Daniele De Rossi’s departure and Francesco Totti even quit his role as director largely because of the president. There wasn’t a lot in the team going forward with many parts likely heading for the exit door. The notion was that Roma should have blown it up. Keep a few pieces and blow up the rest of it. There was no sense of positivity or optimism heading into the campaign. The league has only gotten stronger with a lot of new additions and managers throughout Italian football it is going to be harder than ever to get back into the Champions League. Given all the circumstances Roma rebounded rather quickly they got in the right manager Pablo Fonseca who has the pedigree in European competitions and plays an attacking style of football that Roma has been asking for. They got a new sporting director. Despite losing Kostas Manolas and Stephan El Shaarawy Nonetheless, Roma signed players that fit with the manager and filled some really important needs. They addressed the goalkeeping and defense situation with Pau Lopez and Gianluca Mancini. As well as upgrading the Midfield with Jordan Veretout Roma did not make a ton of signings this summer but it was the right amount the most important thing that occurred this year was retaining the young nucleus that Roma has to their disposal. The absence of Daniele de Rossi is going to be tough and Roma are going to have to find a leader within them but despite that, they have put this team together really nicely. Let’s face the facts Napoli and Juventus are still significantly ahead of them in terms of ability to win even Inter Milan at this point are in a much better position after hiring Antonio Conte. There’s no escaping that this is a project but just because of the project doesn’t mean Roma can’t still make it the champions league. The most important thing for Roma this season is to start strong they have the Derby the second week of the season and they can’t allow momentum to go against them early in the campaign. Pablo Fonseca is the best manager for this team and I think Roma made a lot of strides in the right direction. As far as the league table goes I think Roma will get back into the Champions League getting 4th they still have a ways to go before they put themselves in position to contend for the league title but right now I think they have a significant advantage on AC Milan and Atalanta for that Champions League spot anything’s below 5th is an unacceptable season and I think Roma will respond. Roma for the first time is going into the season with little to no expectations No One believes they can become something and I think they will use this to their advantage this could be a dark horse team especially given the Young core that Roma has. Not to mention Roma addressed the striker situation as Edin Dzeko made U-Turn on Inter and Resigned along with that Nicolo Zaniolo, Cengiz Under and Federico Fazio are signed extensions.Roma still have a ways to go before they can legitimately compete with their counterparts it’s been a long time since Roma have won a trophy with Pablo Fonseca in charge there is a good chance that Roma win something this season it won’t be easy but all Roma need is a little momentum and that can be achieved.

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