Atalanta have been one of the most entertaining teams in Serie A and Europe for the last five seasons, allowing attacking talents like Duvan Zapata, Luis Muriel, and Josip Ilicic to thrive.
For all their creativity and exciting play though, La Dea have their workhorses and foot soldiers that most coaches admire.
In two spells with Atalanta, Dutch midfielder Marten de Roon has been one of the Orobici’s unsung heroes, and he was the unlikely scorer of their equaliser in their 2-2 draw against Lazio on Saturday afternoon.
DE ROON THE SURPRISE PROTAGONIST FOR ATALANTA
Atalanta are enduring another one of their slow starts to a season, currently fourth in the Serie A table with Roma on 19 points after playing 11 games and coach Gian Piero Gasperini is still missing a few players due to injuries.
The defence, in particular, has been weakened and this has prompted the Orobici tactician to convert De Roon into a defender in recent matches. Known for his ability to help his team out defensively as well as his stamina, it seemed more than reasonable to put him at the back.
Although he has been able to provide adequate cover, his latest contribution to an Atalanta result came out of nowhere.
Deep into stoppage time, Duvan Zapata threw the ball to Ruslan Malinovskyi, who then crossed the ball into the box and Merih Demiral managed to flick the ball towards the far post. Amazingly, it was De Roon out of all people who was at the far post and he was close to Lazio defender Elseid Hysaj.
Hysaj was ball-watching through, did not spot the Atalanta midfielder behind him, and the Dutchman directed his shot towards the goal with a nonchalant strike with his right foot.
De Roon is one of the few players that is regularly active on social media, and he posted a short video of his goal on Twitter, also displaying his trademark sense of humour while also paraphrasing England great Gary Lineker.
“Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, Marten de Roon scores,” he said.
The Dutchman has scored 12 goals in 228 competitive games so far for Atalanta but it is doubtful that many of his other goals have arrived in such dramatic fashion. For all their attacking prowess, La Dea’s hero against Lazio was a midfielder who was forced to play in defence.
Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, Marten de Roon scores. pic.twitter.com/fZ8rS8g3n6
— Marten de Roon (@Dirono) October 30, 2021
SARRISMO STILL NOT ON SHOW AT LAZIO
New Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri had started his tenure with the Aquile in emphatic fashion, winning 3-1 away to Empoli in the opening round of the 2021/22 Serie A season and then thrashing Spezia 6-1 at home in the following week.
Since then, the Biancocelesti have struggled to replicate the type of football Sarri wants for his teams. Instead of producing the high-tempo possession football synonymous with the Naples-born tactician, Lazio have been resorting to the counter-attacking approach implemented under former coach Simone Inzaghi.
The Aquile came close to earning the victory at Bergamo with that counter-attacking style but one defensive lapse saw the win slip through their grasp. The draw leaves the Biancocelesti with 18 points from 11 games and they one point behind Atalanta and city rivals Roma.
In a highly competitive Serie A, Sarri cannot leave anything to chance and this was clear case of two points lost.