The surprise package of Serie A who nobody is talking about
The top of Serie A this season may look pretty familiar, with Juventus leading by seven points and Roma, AC Milan and Lazio among the frontrunners. But right there in the mix is Atalanta, a side enjoying their best campaign for over 10 years.
The Bergamo outfit sit fifth after 11 games, and given that they haven’t secured a top-10 finish in Serie A since 2007-08, that’s mightily impressive.
A 2-1 win over Roma on Sunday extended Atalanta’s winning run to five matches, a streak unmatched in the division.
Gian Piero Gasperini succeeded Edoardo Reja as head coach at La Dea in the summer, and so far the 58-year-old has worked wonders.
Gasperini produced similar magic to lead Genoa to sixth in 2014-15, but Atalanta’s success isn’t just down to the gaffer.
The club’s boasts one of the greatest youth academies in Europe, and the alumni includes some of the planet’s finest ever footballers.
Alessio Tacchinardi, Paolo Montero, Filippo Inzaghi, Roberto Donadoni and Christian Vieri are just a few to have come through the Atalanta program.
And a look through the current squad indicates the club haven’t lost their golden touch.
Five of Atalanta’s current first-team are 22 or younger, and after a slow start to the season, the recent run of wins shows the squad is coming together nicely.
Andreas Conti (22), Roberto Gagliardini (22) and Andrea Petagna (21) are just three names to make a note of for the future.
Each has made at least nine appearances this season, but it’s Franck Kessie and Mattia Caldara who are rapidly cropping up on scouts’ radars.
Kessie is only 19, but has already become the midfield dynamo for Atalanta.
Playing in 11 games this term, Kessie has scored five goals, including a last-minute penalty to secure victory over Roma at the weekend.
Southampton have been linked with the teenager, who has already become an international for Ivory Coast, while he has spoken of a desire to play for Manchester United one day.
And the final star of this five-some is Caldara.
At 22, the centre-half has had to bide his time with a series of loan spells, but they appear to have been wise moves.
Since making his Atalanta debut against Napoli in October, Caldara has missed just 45 minutes of Serie A football, while netting three times.
The results in the seven games since Caldara starting playing? Six wins and a draw.
It’s clear that this side are only getting better as the season goes on, and with Atalanta already just a point behind second place, they’re certainly worth watching from here on in.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing