Atalanta Club Focus: Bad boys, bad boys whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when Inter come for you?
Atalanta are miles in front at the top of the table… the disciplinary table.
Davide Brivio’s red card during the Nerazzurri’s 1-0 home defeat to AC Milan, in the Derby di Lombardia on Sunday was the ninth red card of the season for the Bergamo club, and their third dismissal in three consecutive games.
Needless to say it is these red cards that seem to be playing a major part in the Orobici’s downfall. The Bergamo team are not blessed with quality in depth within their squad, and players serving suspensions for unnecessary bookings along with injuries, and transfers out of the club has left head coach Stefano Colantuono with a vastly depleted squad on far too many occasions this season.
Colantuono has been heavily praised for his tactical awareness and his ability to motivate his players, but surely now he has to take some criticism for failing to install discipline within his team. The players are solely responsible for their actions once they are out on the field, but it appears that the 50-year old tactician is quite content to defend a team of consistent reoffenders.
It is not unheard of for clubs to give players with poor disciplinary records fines or even drop the culprits from first team duties. This is clearly not the case at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia. Instead Colantuono opts to reassure and defend his players at during every post match interview.
The extent of the damage these incidents cause to the team will be made clear next week when the Nerazzuri travel to Sicily to face Palermo, in what could turn out to be a proverbial six pointer with both teams fighting for Serie A survival. Atalanta will not have a single first team player that could comfortably play in the left full back position available for the fixture.
Brivio will be forced to serve his suspension for his dismissal at the weekend, while club captain Gianpaolo Bellini is ruled out through injury until the end of February, while Michele Ferri is also a major doubt as he limped off against Milan after 24 minutes with a muscular injury.
As yet Federico Peluso, who was Colantuono’s first choice left back, has not been replaced since his move to Juventus at the start of the transfer window. Thomas Manfredini who has moved to Genoa had also been known to play at left back when needed, despite being better known as a central defender.
Atalanta will be left with three defenders to choose from on Sunday, one of which will be Guglielmo Stendardo who can strictly only play in a central role, and Michele Canini who is also a center half, though he could possibly do a job at full back if need be. Cristian Raimondi who is naturally a defensive winger will play on the right side of defence. Thus, Colantuono will really have to prove how much a master tactician he really is if he hopes to get a result against the Rosanero.
One thing that might help Colantuono could be the arrival of Lazio’s right sided defender, Lionel Scaloni, who has joined the Bergamo club on loan until the end of the season. The Argentina full back has agreed a move to Atalanta under the Bossman ruling and will officially become a La Dea player in the summer although the Rome club have allowed him to join up with his new team on a temporary basis already.
The heavily depleted squad could mean that Ezequiel Schelotto could start his first game in a Nerazzurri shirt this year. The Azzurri international has made no secrets about how he intends the next Nerazzurri shirt he wears to be the one of Internazioanle.
The 23-year old winger has pretty much burnt all his bridges in Bergamo with the majority of La Dea fans wanting the player to move to Milan as much as he does. Constant tweeting about Inter and moving closer the the Milan club’s training ground has infuriated the Atalanta tifosi to say the least.
With the transfer window drawing to a close on Thursday night it has now become a sickening reality that the Argentine born Italian may be stuck at the Bergamo club, or the Bergamo club maybe stuck with Schelotto depending on what side of the fence you sit.
Inter have made made countless offers for Schelotto since the opening day of the window. As yet these offers have fallen far below the Orobici’s valuation of their want-away winger.
Atalanta director general Pierpaolo Marino has confirmed he will only let the player go, if whoever wants to buy Schelotto can offer €8 million.
Inter have offered €5 million, then €4.5 million plus half the the ownership of their young Croatian forward Marko Livaja, but both deals were quickly rejected for being far too low.
If the transfer window slams shut and it leaves Schelotto stuck in Bergamo it will surly leave all concerned with a major problem.
The La Dea fans will be more than happy if they never see the man they have recently labelled as nothing more than another “money grabbing mercenary.”
At the same time the Azzurri international will still be on the Bergamo club’s wage bill, and a club as small as Atalanta cannot afford to have one of their best, and highest payed players rotting on the bench.