STADIO MARIO RIGAMONTI (Brescia) – Atalanta’s superiority over Brescia has been evident for a few years now, but their 3-0 hammering of their Lombardia Derby rivals on Saturday afternoon served as further evidence.
Since Gian Piero Gasperini took charge in Bergamo the Nerazzurri have gone from strength to strength, first qualifying for the Europa League in his first season, repeating the trick in his second and then going one better to secure Champions League football in his third.
Now, they’ve taken a point from Premier League champions Manchester City in Europe, have a Champions League win to their name and can still qualify for the knockout rounds in their first ever season participating in the competition.
Brescia, on the other hand, sit rock bottom of Serie A, are on the verge of sacking their second coach this season, boast just seven points from 14 games, and look like they’re heading straight back down to Serie B.
Lucky 13 for La Dea
It was 13 years since the Lombardia pair met and when they did last come head to head – in Serie B – it was Atalanta who came out on top with a 2-0 win at the Rigamonti.
But in Serie A they tended to struggle when they visited their rivals. That absolutely wasn’t the case on Saturday though and the Rondinelle will be relieved that the only leaked three.
Prior to this weekend Atalanta had only ever won once in the top flight at Brescia – the most recent had been in March 2001 – but they steamrolled their hosts on Saturday.
Pasalic finds prominence
Mario Pasalic can be a frustrating player for Atalanta, but the Croatian looks as though he might finally have matured under Gasperini and he played an important role on Saturday.
“He’s a reliable player, even when he plays as a pure midfielder,” Gasp explained at his press conference afterwards.
“From the second round of fixtures last season he started to score a lot of goals and add a consistency and solidity that he didn’t have before.
“Now he’s become an important player just like [Marten] De Roon, [Remo] Freuler and so many others.”
Having scored the equaliser against Manchester City that earned Atalanta their first ever Champions League point, Pasalic added yet another vital strike by opening the scoring in Brescia.
He went on to hit the post before scoring a cute second in the second half to mark what was a fine all-round performance.
Bottom dwellers Brescia
Unless something drastic happens in January Brescia are heading right back down to Serie B.
Mario Balotelli’s summer arrival understandably generated some excitement and along with Alfredo Donnarumma they have players capable of scoring.
But the squad isn’t good enough to compete at the top level.
Fabio Grosso is almost certain to be sacked by the club on Monday and Eugenio Corini, whose name was sung by the supporters as Atalanta scored their third, is likely to return to the role he was kicked out of to make room for Grosso.
In just three games on the bench Grosso is yet to celebrate his side scoring, but has seen them leak ten goals.