Sunday at 15:00 CET, the Serie A’s two Nerazzurri face off in a direct fight for a European finish at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan.
Matches against Atalanta aren’t generally affairs to welcome with open arms for the Inter faithful. The “fake” Nerazzurri have a habit of raining on Inter’s parade. This year, sees Atalanta develop into the league’s biggest surprise package, and the team from Bergamo finds itself in an unlikely position of challenging for European football next season. One must not forget that current Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini would love to stick it to his former employers to remind them of what might have been had not been had they not let him go.
Stefano Pioli’s men recovered from the Roma loss in spectacular fashion, thumping Cagliari away last week. Pioli will hope to rebuild momentum before the final stretch of the season especially against direct opposition for Europe. While Inter have done well against traditionally smaller sides under Pioli, their record against the big four has been miserable. Hopefully, despite Atlanta’s superior league position, they will be dispatched as the smaller side they are.
Once again, Pioli has a full squad at his disposal, and so it will be interesting to see if he continues with his long term experiment to convert Jeyson Murillo as a full-back and rebirth Gary Medel’s career as a central defender. This hybrid three/four man defence seems to be working, and if Murillo completes his conversion as fullback successfully, Pioli will be credited with a real stroke of genius.
Probable Inter line-up (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; Murillo, Miranda, Medel, D’Ambrosio; Kondogbia, Gagliardini; Candreva, Banega, Perisic, Icardi (C).
Last Season: Inter 1-0 Atalanta.
Last 10 Head to Head: Both sides’ head to head record in the last ten league games is pretty balanced with Atalanta just edging Inter with four wins to the Nerazzurri’s three.
Player to Watch:
Roberto Gagliardini: The young midfielder scored his first goal for Inter against Cagliari last week, and will be facing up to his former team in Atalanta this week. It will be interesting to see whether the pressure of facing his former teammates fuels Gaglia or it proves too much for the youngster.
Referee: Massimiliano Irrati.
Assistants: Do Liberatore & Carbone.
Fourth Official: Ranghetti.
Additional Assistants: Russo & Aureliano.
Prediction & Authors Note
Inter 2-1 Atalanta with Perisic and Gagliardini scoring
Final thoughts: almost all of Atalanta’s offensive threats come from the interplay of Papu Gomez, Andrea Petagna and Jasmin Kurtic. Limit their ability to find spaces and each other, and you’ll have eliminated almost all their attacking prowess.