Atalanta have won just one major trophy in 113 years, the 1963 Coppa Italia. And for a golden moment last season, it looked as though they might make it two by going all the way in the biggest tournament of all. Sadly for the Goddess from Bergamo, Paris Saint-Germain’s late double in Lisbon ended their run in the quarters, and the dream was over.
For a year, anyway. Gian Piero Gasperini’s team scored 98 goals in Serie A last season, the highest total in Italy’s top flight for more than six decades. They’re up to their usual nonsense again this time round: in six league games so far, they’ve been involved in two 4-1s, a 4-0, a 4-2 and a 5-2. They’ve spanked Lazio and been spanked by Napoli. Meanwhile in Europe they’ve trounced Midtylland 4-0 away, and come back from two down to draw a four-goal thriller with Ajax.
They remind Jurgen Klopp of Leeds, who gave Liverpool one hell of a game on the opening day of the Premier League season. The Reds won that 4-3, and have since been on both ends of a 7-2 scoreline, struggled a little to get the better of Sheffield United and West Ham, but also seen off Chelsea and Arsenal with great ease. An Atalantaesque rollercoaster.
So good luck predicting which way this one will go. The chances of a dour goalless draw are not high, mind you. Can Liverpool make it three out of three in Group D, closing in on the knockout stages in double-quick time? Or will free-scoring Atalanta leapfrog them into top place at the halfway stage of the group? A very strong possibility it’ll be a blast finding out. It’s on!
Kick off: 8pm GMT, 9pm at the Atalanta Stadiun in Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy.