Tuesday morning’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport raised the question of whether underdogs Atalanta could “do a Leicester,” after La Dea thumped seven goals past Udinese at the weekend, a side who had previously conceded the fewest goals in Serie A this season.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s band of underdogs currently sit in third position in the table, just three points behind leaders Juventus and only two behind second-placed Inter. The free-scoring side have already fired in 28 goals in their opening nine matches, with the only other side to have scored more at this point in a Serie A season being AC Milan in 1992/93. The Rossoneri had fired in 29 times after nine matches that year, and went on to win the league by four points.
Serie A Match of the round: Napoli vs Atalanta | Wednesday 6pm
This fixture sees third-placed Atalanta travel to Napoli, who sit three points below them in fourth, in what should be a hugely entertaining fixture. The away side are full of confidence after the aforementioned 7-1 win last weekend, while Carlo Ancelotti’s side are struggling to find form in the league.
They struggled to a 1-1 draw with SPAL at the weekend, and need to recover in order to avoid falling out of the Champions League places altogether. To make matters worse, Napoli are struggling with an injury crisis in the backline, with full-back Kevin Malcuit now ruled out for the season after an ACL tear, and fellow defenders Nikola Maksimovic, Mario Rui, Kostas Manolas and Elseid Hysaj also all missing.
Best of the rest
After Juve could only draw with Lecce in the early kick-off last Saturday, Inter had a chance to overtake them at the top of the table. Yet Antonio Conte’s men failed to take advantage of the opportunity that was handed to them, drawing 2-2 with a buoyant Parma side.
The midweek round hands both sides a chance to go again, with Inter away at Brescia on Tuesday evening and the reigning champions at home versus Genoa exactly 24 hours later. Roma will play Udinese, the team who conceded seven versus Atalanta, and Fiorentina travel to Sassuolo without Franck Ribery after the Frenchman was handed a three match ban for pushing an official during their defeat to Lazio last Sunday.
Thursday sees the final game of the round played at San Siro, as new AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli must find a way to win versus SPAL.
Serie A player to watch: Luis Muriel (£1.01) vs Napoli
To be perfectly honest, any one of Atalanta’s forwards are worth watching, as their ultra-attacking mentality has brought the best from Josip Ilicic, Alejandro “Papu” Gomez and Duvan Zapata, the latter of the trio currently out injured.
However, this week’s focus rests on Luis Muriel, who joined the club in the summer following a loan spell at Fiorentina. The Colombian international already has eight goals in just three Serie A starts, including a hat-trick versus Udinese last weekend. Considering the way that Gasperini’s side play, it seems that the striker can only continue to go from strength to strength.