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May 21, 2022 at 7.45pm UK at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia
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Freuler (58')
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Stulac (79')
Stojanovic (45')

Preview: Atalanta BC vs. Empoli - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Atalanta BC vs. Empoli - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Atalanta BC and Empoli, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Their hopes of European football dangling by the thinnest of threads, Atalanta BC aim to end a difficult season in style, as they host mid-table Empoli on Saturday evening.

Having endured a tough time at their Bergamo headquarters this term, the hosts need points to challenge Fiorentina and Roma for a top-six finish, while their Tuscan visitors are glad to have secured Serie A survival despite an awful year to date.

Match preview

Last week, the latest loss of a dismal run saw Atalanta beaten 2-0 by Lombardy rivals Milan, who are in hot pursuit of the Scudetto. Thanks to other results, though, La Dea remain in the mix to qualify for Europe heading into Serie A's final round.

While Roma drew against relegated Venezia, before Fiorentina failed to nail down their top-six spot by slipping to a 4-1 defeat at Sampdoria, Gian Piero Gasperini's team also faltered during the second half at San Siro, so all is set to be determined in the last 90 minutes of the season.

Sixth place qualifies for the Europa League, while seventh would be good enough for a Europa Conference League spot. If Roma were to finish seventh and then win the Conference League final against Feyenoord, however, eighth would actually suffice - and that is where Atalanta lie, due to their head-to-heads with the other contenders.

Rather than getting bogged down in such convoluted calculations, the Bergamaschi must surely seek victory on Saturday, which would represent just their fifth home success of a testing league campaign.

Though only champions-elect Milan, Napoli and Inter have picked up more points than Gasperini's men from away matches this season, a meagre tally of 20 points from 18 previous outings at the Gewiss Stadium has long since ended hopes of a fourth consecutive Champions League qualification.

An exasperated Gasperini has bemoaned various factors for his side's decline during the past few months - during which they also exited the Europa League at its quarter-final stage - but despite posting just two wins from their last 10 games, Atalanta start as favourites against a side suffering an even worse time in 2022.

Though they were beaten 4-1 by Saturday's hosts in October's reverse fixture, Empoli enjoyed an excellent start to life back in the top flight following promotion as last year's Serie B champions - at one point even flirting with the European places.

However, since the halfway stage, the Azzurri have slumped down the standings due to a dire run of form; winning just once in their last 21 matches following last week's 1-1 draw at home to Salernitana.

Patrick Cutrone put the Tuscan club one goal up on the half-hour mark at Stadio Carlo Castellani, but their relegation-threatened rivals struck back after the break to deny them maximum points. Indeed, Empoli goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario was named 'Man of the Match' for making several sharp saves and keeping out a late penalty.

Before they travel to Bergamo for this week's season finale, Empoli's last away wins came in quick succession last December - their shock 1-0 victory at Napoli being followed soon after by a spectacular 4-3 Coppa Italia success versus Verona.

They have lost only seven of their 18 away fixtures this season, though, and have actually fared better on the road than at home. Sitting 14th, and safe from relegation - surely veteran coach Aurelio Andreazzoli's main target this season - they now attempt to improve that record further against an ailing Atalanta side.

Atalanta BC Serie A form:
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L

Empoli Serie A form:
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D

Team News

Though their 2021-22 campaign concludes on Saturday, Atalanta striker Luis Muriel's season is over prematurely, after suffering a knee ligament injury during the defeat to Milan. The Colombian is therefore set to spend several weeks out of action - including the upcoming international period.

The hosts will also have to make do without another integral attacking option, as Ruslan Malinovskyi misses out due to a suspension for accumulated bookings.

Giuseppe Pezzella and captain Rafael Toloi are both still unavailable, too, so Duvan Zapata should start up front in Muriel's absence and young Giorgio Scalvini could replace Toloi in Gian Piero Gasperini's back three.

Meanwhile, Empoli will have defenders Riccardo Marchizza and Lorenzo Tonelli out of commission for their final road trip this term, and midfielder Nicolas Haas is also sidelined by injury.

Aurelio Andreazzoli otherwise has a full squad available, and may be tempted to stick with his front pairing of Patrick Cutrone and 13-goal top scorer Andrea Pinamonti, though Andrea La Mantia is pushing for a start if the latter's knee problem cannot be resolved.

Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Musso; Scalvini, Palomino, Djimsiti; Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Zappacosta; Pasalic, Boga; Zapata

Empoli possible starting lineup:
Vicario; Stojanovic, Viti, Luperto, Cacace; Bandinelli, Asllani, Zurkowski; Bajrami; Cutrone, Pinamonti

We say: Atalanta BC 1-0 Empoli

With Atalanta's ability to capitalise on home advantage still questionable, and their visitors having gone so long without away success, it may not be a fluent affair in front of some disgruntled Bergamaschi fans.

However, the hosts' need for the points is far greater, and they can edge out Empoli due to the options available to Gasperini from the bench if the outcome remains undecided in the closing stages.

For additional data used by our team to analyse our suggested result please click here.

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