Atalanta will be hoping to reclaim second spot in the 2020/21 Serie A table when they lock horns with a struggling Parma outfit on Sunday afternoon.

While Inter Milan may have been crowned the champions of Italy for the 2020/21 campaign, there is still plenty left to play for in the Serie A as the top-four race is yet to be decided. And one of the hopefuls to secure a spot in the UEFA Champions League for the next season, Atalanta, will be in action on Sunday when they take on a relegated Parma side at Stadio Ennio Tardini.

Atalanta entered the gameweek in second place but have been displaced by Napoli following their 4-1 win over Spezia on Saturday, which has given them a one-point lead over Gian Piero Gasperini’s side. With the likes of Juventus and AC Milan breathing down their neck, it becomes imperative for La Dea to pick up all three points this weekend, after their 1-1 draw against Sassuolo last time out, to consolidate their position in the top four.

Parma, meanwhile, are one of the two clubs that have been confirmed to go down at the end of the season, along with bottom-feeders Crotone. The 1-0 defeat to Torino last week spelled the end of any lingering hopes of a dramatic late push for survival for the Crociati, who now can finish the season at best in the 18th place if they win all their remaining four matches and Benevento lose each of theirs.

The reverse fixture, played in January earlier this year, saw Atalanta cruise to a 3-0 win over Parma with goals coming from Luis Muriel, Duvan Zapata and Robin Gosens. Ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Parma

Heading into the game, Parma manager Roberto D’Aversa has a host of roster issues to contend with as Hernani misses out with a suspension while the likes of Valentin Mihaila, Dennis Man, Gaston Brugman, Wylan Cyprien, Roberto Inglese, Simone Iacoponi, Joshua Zirkzee, Yann Karamoh and Giuseppe Pezzella all miss out of the squad with injuries.

Parma will set up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of goalkeeper Luigi Sepe and look to defend deep for the most part while trying to exploit any counter-attacking opportunities. The sheer number of injuries mean that they could very well be there for the taking on Sunday. Bruno Alves and Yordan Osorio ought to be the two centre-backs flanked by Maxime Busi and Riccardo Gagliolo on the right and left sides respectively.

Moving into the middle of the park, Simon Sohm will sit the deepest and provide further protection to the backline and he will have support from Jasmin Kurtic as well as Alberto Grassi, both of whom are also likely to sit behind the ball and look to keep Atalanta at bay.

The attacking onus, thus, will largely fall on the shoulders of Juraj Kucka and former Arsenal star Gervinho, who ought be the wide men on the right and left flanks, respectively, trying to feed the target man Andreas Cornelius, although veteran Graziano Pelle is also an option that D’Aversa could consider in the No. 9 role.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Sepe; Busi, Osorio, Alves, Gagliolo; Grassi, Sohm, Kurtic; Kucka, Cornelius, Gervinho

Atalanta

Unlike their opponents, Atalanta do not have any major injury worries although defensive mainstay Rafael Toloi is ruled out while Pierluigi Gollini misses out due to suspension. Those are the only notable absentees for Gian Piero Gasperini heading into Sunday’s encountr at the Ennio Tardini.

As usual, Gasperini will set his team up in a 3-4-2-1 formation in front of goalkeeper Marco Sportiello, stepping in for the suspended Gollini. Berat Djimsiti, Jose Luis Palomino and Cristian Romero ought to form the three-man defensive unit that will look to secure a clean sheet.

The trio will get further protection from the central midfield duo of Marten de Roon and Remo Freuler, who will look to force turnovers in the middle of the park and set their attacking teammates on their way. Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens will act as the primary attacking outlets for Atalanta from the wing-back slots.

Matteo Pessina ought to slot in as one of the two attacking midfielders, looking to pull the strings in the final third for the visitors. He will have support from Ruslan Malinovskyi, with the duo looking to fashion chances for striker Duvan Zapata, who is a transfer target for Arsenal and Chelsea. Luis Muriel will be an option from the bench.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Sportiello; Djimsiti, Romero, Palomino; Hateoboer, de Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Pessina, Malinovskyi; Zapata

Key Stats

  • Atalanta BC have won each of their last five fixtures against Parma across all competitions. They have scored at least twice in each of the five matches.
  • Parma have lost nine of their last eleven home matches in Serie A. They have conceded at least two goals in ten of those eleven games.
  • Atalanta have gained 20 points from the last 24 available in Serie A. Only Lazio (21) have managed more during this period.
  • Parma have lost each of their last five league matches. Only twice in their Serie A history have they had a longer such run – six in 2001 and 2014.
  • Atalanta have scored the joint-highest number of goals in Serie A this season (79), whereas Parma have the lowest goal-tally in the competition (36).

Player to Watch

Robin Gosens

The 26-year-old German international has enjoyed a spectacular 2020/21 campaign, producing a tally of 10 goals and 6 assists from 28 Serie A outings, playing as the left-sided wing-back for Atalanta. One of the primary reasons as to why La Dea have been able to score as many goals as they have been, Gosens’ ability to push forward relentlessly on his side and hit in passes into dangerous positions or score himself makes him a dangerous weapon.

Indeed, Gosens became the first defender to score 10 or more goals in a single Serie A campaign since Marco Materazzi had achieved the feat with Inter Milan in 2006/07 (12). So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Gosens is courting transfer interest from the who’s who of Europe with the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan interested along with Champions League finalists Chelsea. For Atalanta to finish in the top four, the 26-year-old will have a crucial role to play in the remaining games.

Prediction

Parma 0-3 Atalanta

Parma’s season is already over with relegation confirmed and nothing left to play for. And given the number of injuries they have, they stand little chance against the mighty Atalanta attack on Sunday afternoon. The Hard Tackle is backing La Dea to pick up a comfortable win by a heavy margin, which will take them a step closer towards sealing their top-four berth.

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