Juventus
    20.12.2013 18:38 - in: Serie A S

    Atalanta in the spotlight

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    This week’s focus of the Juventus.com in-depth club profile are Sunday’s opponents Atalanta

    Club

    Atalanta (officially Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio) are based not far from Turin in Lombardy, and play in black and blue stripes at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia.

    The 52 seasons they have spent in Serie A are more than any other side from a city that isn’t a regional capital, a figure which has formed the basis of their nickname as the “Regina delle Provinciali” (Queen of the Provinces).

    Founded in 1907 by a group of Liceo school students, the youngsters named the club after the huntress from Greek mythology.

    The first league campaign they competed in was the 1914/15 Lombardy championship, and following the structural reform of the Italian league they were admitted to Serie B.

    After seven consecutive seasons there, the Nerazzurri achieved a historic first promotion to Serie A in 1937, but went straight back down the year after.

    The club embarked upon a 10-season spell in the top flight from 1940 onwards, their longest ever run in Serie A to date. It also included their highest ever finish: fifth position in 1948. It was in that year, too, that Giuseppe Casari and Giacomo Mari became the first Atalanta players to receive international call-ups.

    The start of the 1960s brought prominent international signings such as Bengt Gustavvson, whose Sweden side had lost to Pele’s Brazil in the final of the 1958 World Cup, and the new arrivals spurred Atalanta to their only major success: the 1963 Coppa Italia.

    Then followed a series of promotions and relegations as the club struggled to find stability, a difficult period made worse by the death of Daniele Turani, the president who had overseen their recent success. The low point came in a first ever drop down to Serie C in 1981.

    But the 1987/88 season brought a real highlight as the Nerazzurri, a small provincial side, enjoyed a stunning run in the Cup Winners’ Cup, with their European adventure eventually coming to an end in the semi-final.

    Topping the Serie B table in 2010/11 thanks in part to the good performances of Federico Peluso and Simone Padoin, Atalanta sealed their 12th promotion to the top flight.

    Stadium

    Atalanta play at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, an oval-shaped ground capable of holding 26, 542 supporters which they share with Lega Pro side Albinoleffe.

    At the time of the stadium’s 1928 inauguration, there were swimming pools and tennis courts in place of the two “curve” at either end, and it also had an athletics track until it was removed in 1983.

    A giant blue and black flag called the “Bandierù” covers the entire Curva Nord on particularly important matchdays.

    Transfer Activity

    A notable summer arrival on a free transfer from Milan was veteran defender Mario Yepes, captain of Columbia since 2008. Now 37, he will provide a wealth of experience in their defence.

    Adding to their midfield ranks, Atalanta made the two-year loan deal for Napoli playmaker Luca Cigarini permanent in the summer. Nicknamed “Il Professore” for his vision of the game, he has similar characteristics to Andrea Pirlo and is a prolific provider of assists.

    The Nerazzurri have also brought in talented Romanian youngster Constantin Nica. The 20-year-old right-back made his debut for the national team in August.

    Current Bianconeri defender Federico Peluso had been on loan with Juventus in the second half of the 2012/13 season, and this summer his departure from Atalanta was made permanent after impressing when reunited with former manager Antonio Conte.

    Current team

    Club captain Gianpaolo Bellini has spent his entire career with the Nerazzurri after emerging from the well-reputed youth academy and making his first team debut back in 1998.

    Their biggest threat in attack is German Denis. The Argentine striker has scored six in Serie A so far after finishing last season as the club’s top scorer with 15 goals.

    As well as these more established faces, a rising star for the Nerazzurri is Giacomo Bonaventura, an attacking midfielder who made his senior national debut in May this year in a 4-0 Italy win against San Marino.

    Manager

    Atalanta are led by highly-respected coach Stefano Colantuono, an ex-centre back now in his third season as Nerazzurri boss.

    He played all over Italy as a defender, also winning an indoor Futsal Scudetto with BNL Roma midway through a career he finished at Sambenedettese in Marche.

    It was there, whilst still a player, that two managerial sackings in quick succession handed him the chance to begin his coaching career.

    He won all nine of the games he took charge of at the end of that 2001/2002 season, and Catania then came knocking.

    After spending the following year at Perugia, Colantuono first took on the Atalanta job in 2005, leading them to the Serie B title in his debut season and an impressive seventh place in the top flight the year after.

    Success evaded him at Palermo and Torino, but he rejoined the Nerazzurri in 2010 and took them back to the top flight they had slipped out of in his absence at the first time of asking.

     

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