Opinion

Serie A – Match Preview: Atalanta vs AS Roma

RomaPress Staff
I

The Serie A season is reaching its conclusion and despite Inter Milan wrapping up the title in convincing fashion this year, the race for European football is certainly heating up, with the potential for five slots in the Champions League making the end of the season for Roma a tasty affair as they travel to Bergamo to face Atalanta.

Of course, this could well have been a curtain raiser for the Europa League final in Ireland, with Atalanta thrashing Marseille on aggregate 4-1 in their semi-final, but Roma were unable to get past the unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen, whose late two goals ensured they overturned an ambitious comeback from Danielle De Rossi’s side.

Still, with both teams sat on the periphery of the top four, level on 60 points, this game could go a long way in deciding which team will play in next season’s Champions League and who will have to settle for another season in the Europa.

Team news

Roma have been a team transformed since parting ways with Jose Mourinho earlier in the season, and you wonder how much better things could have been if the squad was not plagued with injuries throughout the early stages of De Rossi’s tenure. The Giallorossi are once again without talisman Paulo Dybala, who is still on the sidelines after suffering an injury against Juventus, but the return of the versatile Leonardo Spinazzola gives paces and dynamism both out wide and across the back three.

As for Atalanta, their squad has always been thin but as showcased by their performances in Europe, they have done well with the depth they have. The likes of Teun Koopmeiners, who looks to be playing one of his last matches at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia before leaving the club, as well as Ademola Lookman are at risk of suspension, but other than that they are virtually at full strength.

Pre-match form

The turn of the year has represented a great success for Atalanta, with even the best-ranked sports betting sites in the US placing them as underdogs in the Europa League, but they overcame Liverpool and looked convincing both at home and at Anfield, stunning one of the favourites for the competition, and now face a Leverusken team in Ireland that are looking to win an unprecedented treble.

Domestically, they have lost just one in the last five, but a few cumbersome draws in their last few games have prevented them from breaching that elusive top four.

Roma can take no shame in losing late to Xabi Alonso’s Bundesliga winners. It seems everything the Spaniard touches turns to gold these days and De Rossi’s side will have to heal their wounds quickly despite missing out on a third successive European final. In terms of Serie A form, two wins in the last five has been frustrating, especially their 3-1 defeat to fellow European rivals Bologna, who moved into fourth place after they won at the Olympico.

Key players

Roma – Leandro Paredes

Without the goals from midfield of Leandro Paredes, Roma would really be struggling with the loss of Dybala. The other forward options in Tammy Abraham and Romelu Lukaku have kept the side ticking over, but neither of the former Chelsea number nines seems to be what De Rossi is looking for when it comes to his playing style. Paredes, a World Cup winner with Argentina last year, has plenty of experience in getting over the line domestically too with Paris Saint Germain, and his penalties brace in Europe showed his goalscoring exploits once again as well as his defensive determination.

Atalanta – Matteo Ruggeri

While Koopmeirs garners a lot of attention in this Atalanta side, the unsung hero comes from the left side in Matteo Ruggeri. The Italian kept Mohamed Salah quiet earlier in the season and while he still has a big job on his hands to get into his national side for the Euros this summer, his priority as a local player is to win a trophy with his boyhood club, something he said brings him immense pleasure.

“For me, it’s a source of great pride, my parents made many sacrifices for me, I dedicate it to them, they raised me with great respect. The credit is all theirs. From tomorrow we are already thinking about the final and the league. My first goal in Bergamo, a great feeling.”

Prediction

Overall, the game will go a long way in deciding who makes the Champions League this season but Atalanta’s thin squad and busy schedule may prove costly despite having home advantage. Roma have been inconsistent on the road but knowing their campaign is almost over their players will look to impress De Rossi throughout these final few games in order to be in his plans for next season. We think Roma sneak a win in Bergamo in this one.

Match Center

MatchDay 36
12 May 20:45
Atalanta
ATT
Roma