Man Utd v Atalanta Preview: Get to know the Energetic Italians
Man Utd face Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday in a pivotal match up between the groups top sides on paper. Man Utd will hope to bounce back after losing on the road to Leicester at the weekend.
Man Utd rebounded in their last Champions League match in 2-1 victory against Villarreal, bouncing back from losing their group opener against Young Boys.
Despite the win against Villarreal, United still sit third in the table on goal differential, kind of. Atalanta started their Champions League campaign with a draw and a win. They currently sit top of the group.
Atalanta have been a stunning revelation that last few years in Serie A, challenging the hierarchy of Italian football. Atalanta currently sit sixth in Serie A and have only lost to two of the best sides in the league, AC Milan and Juventus.
Atalanta operate out of a 3-center back system with two midfielders as cover and are unapologetically an attacking side and could overwhelm teams with their talent. Duvan Zapata, Luis Muriel and Josip Ilicic lead the line, sometimes one or two will start with the other coming off the bench.
There is so much European talent on this team, Martin de Roon and Teun Koopmeiners, two Dutch internationals provide the cover for defense. Other internationals Hans Hateboer, Joakim Maehle, Robin Gosens and Davide Zappacosta operate as wing-backs.
Maehle and Gosens had fantastic and an extremely impressive Euros. All of their wing-backs can get up and down the field. Just like their wing-backs, they have plenty of options in the playmaker department as well.
Ruslan Malinovskyi, Matteo Pessina, Mario Pasalic and Aleksei Miranchuk are all internationals. Pessina came off the bench for Italy during the Euros and chipped in with two big goals for Italy in the Euro triumph.
In defense Merit Demiral is on loan from Juve, the Turkish international helped replace Christian Romero who is on loan at Tottenham with an option to buy. Demiral is combined with Rafael Toloi, a Euro champion and Jose Palomino in defense.
They provide cover for Juan Musso, the keeper, Musso was previously at Udinese and is now the first choice keeper so far this season. Other notable players are Remo Freuler a Swiss international, also had a good Euro performance, Roberto Piccoli a Italian youth international and Berat Djimsiti an Albanian international center back.
Atalanta’s CL Runs
Atalanta have a plethora of talent in their side and have the ability to change things up and to adjust if things are not initially going their way in a match. At the weekend they took care of Empoli 4-1 with goals from Ilicic and Zapata.
Atalanta have finished third in each of the last three seasons in Serie A. Last season they were knocked out of Champions League in the round of 16 to Real Madrid and lost the Copa Italia Final to Juve.
Their best run in the Champions League was the restart tourney that was held during August 2020. They lost to PSG in a one match Quarter-final 2-1 after going up early they conceded two goals in the 90th and PSG advanced.
Man Utd can not come out lackadaisical against this Atalanta side, they are similar to Manchester City and like to overwhelm defenses with numbers. Their wing-backs get up and down the field, they defend well at times.
The playmakers are not selfish and they like to get the ball to their forwards who are all good at a lot of things. Ilicic is underrated and can score from anywhere. Zapata is a beast and Muriel has great pace and can get in behind any defense. A lot of players on this team do the dirty work and are not selfish.
Gian Gasperini has helped develop an industrious side that can beat any team in Europe on their day. Man Utd can not look ahead in the league, even though it is Liverpool.