Nov 21, 2020 at 5pm UK
AtalantaAtalanta BC

Ricci (3'), Estevez (28'), Terzi (65')

Gosens (38'), Pasalic (52'), Pessina (85')

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

:Headline: Preview: Spezia vs. Atalanta BC - prediction, team news, lineups: ID:422375: from db_amp
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Spezia and Atalanta BC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Atalanta BC welcome back a host of international stars from far and wide, as they journey south to Spezia's temporary home in Cesena for Saturday's Serie A encounter.

Spezia's unexpectedly solid start to life in Serie A continued before the international break, as they cruised to a home victory against fellow top flight new boys Benevento, while Atalanta's rollercoaster form - at home and abroad - has left them sixth in the early standings.

Match preview

Spezia hope that Saturday's clash with their visitors from Bergamo will be the last hosted at their stand-in ground, as renovation work on their own Stadio Alberto Picco in La Spezia is nearly complete.

Atalanta will perhaps consider themselves unlucky to be the final opponent to take to the 'plastic pitch' at the Dino Manuzzi, particularly with a number of already-tired legs arriving from as far away as South America shortly before kickoff.

After a brilliant start with three wins in the first three games - and 13 goals scored - La Dea's form fell into steep decline. Recording two consecutive defeats and being hammered by Liverpool has clearly shaken the inestimable confidence with which they once took on all-comers.

Before the break, victory against Crotone and a goalless draw with Inter Milan lifted them to sixth place - above both Inter and Lazio, level with defending champions Juventus. However, a once unstemmable goal spring that seemed never likely to dry up has at least slowed to a trickle - with a recent relatively meagre tally of five goals in four games.

In all, Luis Muriel has recorded a healthy four goals and two assists, the irresistible Papu Gomez the same, while Duvan Zapata has just two goals and two assists so far - falling below last season's scintillating strike rate.

Zapata has scored against 28 of the 29 teams he has faced in the top-flight since 2013 and with a goal against Spezia he could equal Ciro Immobile's remarkable record of scoring against 29 different teams during this time. Like his Colombian compatriot Muriel, the ex-Napoli man will see the trip to Stadio Dino Manuzzi as a perfect opportunity to turn his team's downward trend around, given the opposition's apparent defensive deficiencies.

Vincenzo Italiano's Spezia have so far conceded 15 goals - only cavalier Benevento (20), Crotone (17) and Torino (16) have leaked more. They have also let in the most goals from set-piece situations of any Serie A side this season, with seven.

Nonetheless, last time out the Aquilotti kept a clean sheet and had the best of an early 'six-pointer' - beating Benevento 3-0 through Azzurrini star Tommaso Pobega's strike and French forward M'Bala Nzola's first Serie A goals.

Despite many prolonged absences in the camp, Italiano has been able to instill a certain grittiness and unexpected attacking enterprise to cover his squad's obvious technical shortcomings - the red-hot relegation favourites have certainly been no pushovers so far.

So, even though the visitors' squad is jam-packed with creative talents, the Bianconeri will at least be hopeful of sneaking another much-needed point in their lengthy battle to secure a second-ever Serie A season.

Having lost only to Juventus in their last five games, the sense of trepidation which would have inevitably surrounded this game just a month or two ago will be replaced by cautious optimism ahead of their first top-flight meeting with the boys from Bergamo - particularly if Atalanta have one eye on the upcoming Liverpool game in the Champions League. Perhaps even a historic first ever Serie A 'home' win could be within reach.

Spezia Serie A form: WLDDLW
Spezia form (all competitions): LDDWLW

Atalanta BC Serie A form: WWLLWD
Atalanta BC form (all competitions): WLDWLD

Team News

Powerful midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi recorded a positive COVID-19 test result while in Ukraine, but otherwise Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini has a number of stars returning to fitness. Malinovskyi and defender Mattia Caldara - out until January - aside, the Nerazzurri have a nearly full-strength squad.

First-team regulars Robin Gosens, Jose Luis Palomino and possibly Marten de Roon are expected to return to action on Saturday, boosting a recently inconsistent side. Cristiano Piccini and goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini may also be involved after longer-term absences.

For Spezia, Diego Farias, Bulgarian striker Andrey Galabinov and Daniele Verde are all doubtful. Goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet is unavailable, as are Elio Capradossi and Uruguayan defender Juan Ramos.

Young midfielder Tommaso Pobega, who scored a brace for Italy's Under-21 side on his debut last week, is set to feature in a midfield three alongside Giulio Maggiore and Matteo Ricci. M'Bala Nzola continues up front, in Galabinov's absence.

Spezia possible starting lineup:
Provedel; Ferrer, Terzi, Dell'Orco, Marchizza; Maggiore, Ricci, Pobega; Gyasi, Nzola, Agudelo

Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Gollini; Toloi, Romero, Djimsiti; Hateboer, Freuler, Pessina, Gosens; Gomez, Ilicic; Zapata

We say: Spezia 2-3 Atalanta BC

Spezia have stood aside for no-one in Serie A so far, defying expectations with a healthy points - and goals - tally. The Bianconeri should take inspiration from their comprehensive win in Benevento last time out.

Their opponents, however, have an increasingly deep squad and Gian Piero Gasperini can make full use of rotation - and the five substitutes rule - to get them over the line in what is set to be a typically open game.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:curl

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