Atalanta v Roma – Atleti Azzurri d’Italia at 14:00 live on BT Sport 3
Serie A is back for another week, and I have to say my last Asian Handicap betting recommendation didn’t go too well (Inter Milan, what more could you say?!), but I am now feeling confident about this one as Atalanta host AS Roma on Sunday afternoon.
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Let’s start by saying the last time these two side met in Bergamo, the match finished 3-3; Francesco Totti scoring in the 86th minute to rescue a point for the visitors. So from that, I am hoping we are in for another goal fest on Sunday! But you never know with Italian football.
Heading into this match and both teams are doing really well. Atalanta are sitting fifth in Serie A and has won four games on the bounce conceding only one goal in their last six games. Gian Piero Gasperini’s last fixture ending in a 3-0 win at home to Sassuolo; the visitors setting up in the popular 3-4-3 formation.
However, I look at this Atalanta side and I cannot see where their quality lies. To me, it looks like a Leicester City team of the previous season; all ready to work hard for one another. I mean, if you were to ask me what players I recognise…Alberto Paloschi…that’s it, and he can’t even get a game!
A player I am looking forward to seeing though is Ivorian Franck Kessie. The 19-year-old has played ten times for La Dea and scored four goals, as the centre-midfield could make a real difference on the weekend.
On the other hand, four defenders sit out injured for the hosts, while Andrea Conti (a right back) is suspended too, so defensively they may not be as sharp.
One thing to consider is that Atalanta sit unbeaten in their last eight matches, and the last time these suffered defeat was when they fielded a 4-2-3-1 formation. Now since they have evolved into this 3-4-3 it is looking to suit the team and manager, and I bet fans are not that upset either. Performing above expectations.
With Roma, I have that sense that this will be another “just missed out on the season” campaign for the title challengers. They have never been able to keep up their push for a Serie A Championship since the days of Rudi Garcia as manager, and this season I don’t see it being any different.
At the moment, Luciano Spalletti’s team remain unbeaten in their last nine games in all competitions and their last five in the Italian league. Roma’s last match finishing in a 3-0 victory at home to Bologna; Mohamed Salah bagging a hat-trick at the Stadio Olimpico.
They have no problem scoring goals either, having netted 13 in their last five matches, but a big miss for them in the summer was seeing the back of Miralem Pjanic as he went to join Italian Champions Juventus. Still, onwards and upwards. They still have quality in the likes of Kevin Strootman and underrated Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan.
One thing that Spalletti has done is stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation with plenty of attacking threat coming from the wings. May that be either through Salah, Diego Perotti or Stephan El Shaarawy, while the main outlet of Edin Dzeko is always a threat as he has been a striker I always thought could walk into any top European team.
One concern is that six players sit out injured, and this includes Roma legend Totti with a hip injury as the 39-year-old has no expected return date.
The defensive issues for Atalanta worry me because I wonder how Gasperini will set up with most of his full-backs out for this encounter. Yet, they look solid heading into this match-up. Roma, meanwhile, have always been a side I enjoy watching, but at times they just have off days and don’t perform the way you expect them too.
Overall, the price on Roma at -0.5 is one that I cannot turn down. They have the quality to perform and if they want to be seen a real title contenders now is the time to step up!
Prices correct at time of writing.