Welcome to the first post of Season three which looks at our Pre-Season preparations as we look to build on last seasons double winning season. I had a few decisions to make during the summer months regarding the first team squad and in particular our defence, the first issue I touched upon it in my last post regarding the coming to an end of the 2 year loan deals for both Mattia Caldara (BPD) and Leonardo Spinazzola (LWB) from Juventus. We had an option to make Spinazzola’s loan deal permanent but I decided not to activate the clause. Caldara was fantastic and played a big part in our back line during the last 2 seasons and unfortunately we have to say goodbye to him and look at our options to fill the gap he will leave. The next decision to make was to allow Boukary Dramé (LWB) to join Lille for 300k, Dramé has been excellent for me but I decided that now was the time to part company with the ageing wing back. So with Dramé and Spinazzola outgoing we now needed 2 options in the left wing back slot. Moving over to the right wing back slot I have also let our back up Hans Hateboer (RWB) join last seasons Eredivisie runners up SC Heerenveen for £4m after the Dutch club raised their initial bid of £2.7m, Hateboer failed to impress me over the last 2 years so I felt I could pick up a better option to be understudy to first choice Andrea Conti. Moving on to the midfield and after being resigned to losing Franck Kessie after I agreed to let him speak to PSG, I was stunned when the Ivorian asked to withdraw his transfer request which I did without hesitation. PSG did come knocking and this time I lost the battle to keep Jasmin Kurtic (CM) but was pleased with the £19m the French money bags stumped up. Roberto Gagliardini (CM) completed his £17.25m move to Inter after his 2 year loan to them, this deal was done before I joined the club 2 years ago. On to the Forward line and I made the decision to send Andrea Petagna (FWD) to PSV Eindoven on a season long loan in the hope that he could find his goalscoring boots after having 2 difficult seasons in the wings here at Atalanta. For some reason I just could not get the best out of Petagna but I didn’t want to give up on him so decided to take the pressure off him and see if he can find the potential in Holland. I also sold the following players, Bryan Cabezas to Valencia for £5m after the Ecuadorian winger shone in La-Liga last season. Goalkeeper Boris Radunovic has joined Frosinone for 475k and Midfielder Nicola Fazzi has joined Empoli for 325k.
With the outgoings sorted how have I strengthened the squad ? Firstly we welcome the two players we signed during last season both Facundo Colidio (FWD) from Boca Juniors and Pierluigi Gollini (GK) from Aston Villa, both players will go straight in to our first team squad with Gollini already acustomed to us after spending the last 2 years on loan with us. I then looked at the two Right Wing Back slots available in the squad and decided that we would use our shortlist to recruit the ideal players to fulfil the role and first player to join us was Giuseppe Pezzella (LWB) from Palermo for £4.1m. I then went all out to sign the exciting Federico Dimarco (LWB) from Inter for £10m. The two Italians will provide excellent options for me at left wing back. Switching to the Right Wing Back position I wanted someone who will provide a quality back up option to Andrea Conti and decided to bring in Italian Davide Calabria (RWB) on a season long loan deal from AC Milan. I then looked at a number of options to bring a Ball Playing Defender in to the club and finally decided to sign the Argentine Emanuel Mammana (BPD) from Olympique Lyon for £12m. Mammana is nicknamed ‘The Wall’ from his days at River Plate and will battle it out with Bastoni, Mancini and Tolòi for a starting position in our back 3, I also have cover already in the squad with both Kessie and Ajer both competent at dropping in to the back line. I then went back in to the market and secured the services of the young Norwegian Attacking Midfielder Martin Odegaard on a season long loan from Real Madrid with an option to buy for £8m. I am pleased with our dealing in the window has we prepare to defend our Serie A title and make our mark in the Champions League.
Atalanta Squad 2018-2019
Players in bold are new additions to our squad
- Marco Sportiello
- Pierluigi Gollini
- Andrea Conti
- Davide Calabria ( on loan from AC Milan )
- Giuseppe Pezzella
- Federico Dimarco
- Alessandro Bastoni
- Gianluca Mancini
- Anton Kresic ( promoted to first team )
- Rafael Tolòi
- Emanuel Mammana
- Franck Kessie
- Matteo Gasperoni
- Luca Valzania
- Fillipo Melegoni
- Kristoffer Ajer
- Remi Freuler
- Louis Schaub
- Martin Odegaard ( On loan from Real Madrid )
- Alberto Paloschi
- Kasper Dolberg
- Simone Mazzocchi
- Facundo Colidio
- Gaetano Monachello
We opened our Pre-Season preparations with a 3-1 win at home against Dynamo Kiev with Dolberg, Kessie and Schaub all netting. Next up we had been invited to play Juventus for Claudio Marchisio’s testimonial. Both sides played rotational line ups with the knowledge that we would be meeting again in a few weeks in the Supercoppa. We managed to win the game 3-2 with our new boy Facundo Colidio scoring 2 goals and Simone Mazzocchi netting the other. Our next game took us away to play Renate were we ran out 6-0 winners with Colidio getting an hat-trick backed up by goals from Odegaard 2 and Monachello. We then went on to beat Giana Emino 3-0 with 3 midfielders getting the goals Kessie, Gasperoni and Melegoni. Mapellobonate were our hosts for our next game which resulted in a 5-0 win the goals coming from Paloschi 2, Colidio 2 and Conti. Our next game we went goal crazy in beating Aglianese 13-0 with Dolberg 3, Colidio 3, Monachello, Mancini, Pezzella, Ajer, Mazzocchi, Kessie and Schaub all getting among the goals. We then had back to back games against Juventus in the Supercoppa Italia and Arsenal in the European Super Cup Final (see later in the post). Our next game took us to play Lumezzane were we came away with a 1-0 win with Franck Kessie hitting the winner. We stayed on the road and visited Pontisola and came away with anothing easy 4-0 win that allowed me to get more game time through the squad, Paloschi 2 and Mancini getting on the scoresheet along with an own goal. Grumellese were our hosts for the final warm up game and a chance for the boys to get their shooting boots on in a 7-0 win, Dolberg 3 Mazzocchi 3 and Pezzella getting the goals.
Our first competitive game of the season would pair us with an old foe in Juventus for the crack at adding more silverware to the cabinet. Rafa Benitez seems intent on getting under my skin however I am not rising to his daft comments. Once the game was under way we got off to a flier with Louis Schaub giving us an early lead which settled the nerves. Paloschi then doubled our lead after just 18 minutes, We could not have asked for a better start but then Juve and Higuain capitalised on a second ball after Gollini pulled off a save, 2-1 at the break I tell the boys to guard against complacency and we start the second period well and then get delt a blow when Rafael Tolòi gets a straight red on the hour. I drop us in to a deep 3-4-1-1 formation to try and nullify the predictable Juve onslaught. Juve push players forward and we catch them on the break with Louis Schaub capitalising on a Mattia Caldara error to put us 3-1 up. Dybala then grabbed a lifeline for Juventus 3-2 but the outstanding Schaub completed his hat-trick in the 82nd minute to put 4-2 up and take the matchball home along with another winners medal after we held out for a 4-2 win.
European Super Cup Final
We travelled to Estonia for the European Super Cup Final against Champions League and Premier League Champions Arsenal and could not have wished for a better start when both Louis Schaub and Kasper Dolberg both score twice in the first half to give us a resounding well deserved 4-0 lead at half time. I knew this Arsenal side would be gunning for us in the second half so I tell the boys to guard against complacency again and sent them out for the 2nd period. We conceded 2 goals after the restart but manage to see the game out and the boys deliver our 4th trophy in the last few months with a 4-2 win.
We look to be doing well financially and will have Champions League money
The boards minimum expectation is that we qualify for the Europa League via our League position which is more than achievable and shows that the board are not getting ahead of themselves with our recent success.
We have been drawn in a very interesting group when the draw was made in Zurich. We had been seeded in pot 1 after winning the Title in Italy and the Europa League double last season. Once the draw was underway the first side draw in to our group was Tottenham Hotspur followed by Ajax and then Stade Rennais. It’s a very interesting group that brings together a number of clubs with similar philosophies.
No Limits For The Boys From Bergamo !!!
A fantastic curtain raiser to our third season saw us do the domestic and European Super Cup double which gives us a platform to build our season on has we look to defend the Serie A title and embark on our first Champions League campaign. I feel we have added quality and depth to our squad. I am looking forward to seeing the young talent that is Facundo Colidio develop in Bergamo alongside our talented squad. I believe this group of players have No Limits to their potential. My next update should be out over the next weekend so until then
The Boys From Bergamo ( The Story So Far )