Atalanta vs Napoli by JerryDrake
H2H meetings in Bergamo in Serie A, Serie B and Coppa Italia: 19-20-8, 65/46
For this Sunday fixture coach Benitez will have all players available except Mesto, Behrami, Zuniga and the new signed Brazilian defender Henrique. His colleague, Atalanta coach Colantuono will miss suspended players Brivio and Carmona and injured players Cigarini, Scaloni and Bellini.
Before having a deeper look at the teams, I want to give a general view on the table, form and motivations.
Napoli are 3rd in the league and they must defend themselves from Fiorentina for the CL qualification. They have the 3rd best attack in Italy after Juventus and Roma but they conceded too many goals compared to their rivals and this is the reason why Napoli decided to sign Ghoulam and Henrique. Only Ghoulam has been called up as Henrique is not fit yet.
After this fixture Napoli will play the first leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals in Rome against Roma, and I imagine that they will try not to spend too many energies for this Serie A fixture.
Atalanta are placed 12th in the league with 24 points, 7 more than relegation. They have lost only two home games out of 10 against Fiorentina and Juventus whereas they were very close to defeat Roma when they were leading 1-0 with a goal scored by Brivio. Strootman scored the equalizer in the last minute of the game.
In their last match they have lost in Turin against the Granata coached by Ventura. The penalty awarded to Torino was not correct and this caused long protests from the Nerazzurri. This shows that they keep fighting for every possible point even if they have a good advantage over the relegation zone.
Napoli succeed in making their game when they face open teams while they struggle against defensive ones like we saw in their home games with Chievo and Lazio recently. And Atalanta belong to the tough ones in Italy, above all when they play in their own stadium.
At the home side two men will be more motivated as the others. One of them is Pierpaolo Marino, a general manager who worked many years for Napoli. He was the one who decided to sign Hamsik and Lavezzi. The second one is Argentinian striker Germán Gustavo Denis, called “El Tanque”. He played three seasons with Napoli and moved to Atalanta in 2011. Since then, he played 88 games with the Nerazzurri and scored 38 goals.
Goalkeeper Consigli is one of the best goalkeepers in Italy and he can count on experienced defenders at his side like Stendardo and Lucchini. In the midfield Giacomo Bonaventura is one of those who can make the difference in every game, above all when he plays against top teams. He scored only two goals this year but I remember he hit often the post in some games and created a lot of chances and assists to his team mates. Although many teams looked for him in the past months, he still plays for Atalanta and I consider it a positive thing for this team.
On the Napoli side we have all seen what a great season are having Belgian player Mertens and Spanish player Callejón as well as Argentinian striker Higuain. Still, I saw them having a short break, they spent a lot of energies in the first part of the season and they all look a little tired now, except Higuain.
Jorginho has started well his new experience in Naples but he is still not completely integrated in the strategies designed by Benitez. Maggio is the ghost of the fast running player we saw in the past seasons and he is not supporting the defense the way he should. The only one giving solidity to the defense is Albiol. Goalkeeper Reina is b
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