Since Gian Piero Gasperini was appointed coach of Atalanta in the summer of 2016, La Dea have developed into one of the most entertaining teams in Serie A and in European football.
More so in previous years, injuries have recently impacted on their ability to produced the type of performances that the Orobici have been renowned for.
Atalanta drew 1-1 at home to Udinese in Round 9 of Serie A action and they faced a Zebrette team that was determined to nullify their attacking play at all costs.
ATALANTA DEARTH OF DEPTH EXPOSED
It seemed that Atalanta were going to hold on for a 1-0 victory and leap into the Champions League spots but a header from Udinese forward Beto in stoppage time earned the Friulani a point away from home.
The draw leaves La Dea equal fifth with Juventus and Fiorentina on 15 points after nine rounds and their typically slow starts to the season have continued, but the current situation is perhaps something Gasperini cannot have much control of.
Atalanta had as many as seven potential starters unavailable due to injuries for the Udinese match. La Dea might not be known for their defensive prowess but those players are still important parts of the team when they are in possession.
Gasperini has had to convert defensive midfielder Marten de Roon into a makeshift defender, Mario Pasalic has to operate as a box-to-box midfielder, and the other reserve options represent a downgrade on those they are meant to replace.
The likes of Rafael Toloi and Berat Djimsiti are centre-backs capable of playing the ball out from defence, Merih Demiral is a rock-solid defender who can provide a threat at set-pieces, the wing-backs Hans Hateboer, Robin Gosens, and Joakim Maehle are competent crossers of the ball that can also get into scoring positions, and Matteo Pessina is dangerous when he makes late runs into the penalty area.
Those absentees add something extra to Gasperini’s team and, surely, he cannot wait to get some of those players back soon so Atalanta can start playing the exciting football they are known for and start winning again.
UDINESE CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE AND TO BORE
Aside from the absentees, it also did not help that Atalanta had to face an Udinese side who were more than happy to defend in a deep defensive block. Even if the television graphics displayed that Luca Gotti lined the team up in a 3-4-3 formation, it could have been interpreted as a 7-0-3 or 10-0-0.
Udinese are now 14th in the Serie A table with 10 points, and after drawing 2-2 against Juventus in the opening round and then earning two wins, they have failed to win in their past six league games.
It is evident that Luca Gotti’s defensive approach is not getting the results that can assist the Zebrette to avoid relegation. Even if they did, there is barely anything appealing about their play.
Juventus under Massimiliano Allegri have been known for their conservative approach but they have players like Federico Chiesa and Paulo Dybala who can turn a game around. Sampdoria ditched their attacking approach for a more defensive one in their 2-1 victory against Spezia, but they still possessed a threat on the counter-attack, especially thanks to veteran winger Antonio Candreva.
What do Udinese have going for them? At the moment, they can make television audiences change the channel or put them to sleep.