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Mar 21, 2021 at 11.30am UK
Hellas VeronaHellas Verona
AtalantaAtalanta BC

Ceccherini (27'), Dawidowicz (28'), Sturaro (72')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Malinovskyi (33' pen.), Zapata (42')
Toloi (60'), Romero (64')

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

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

Seeking to overcome Champions League heartbreak and take another step towards a return to Europe next season, Atalanta BC visit mid-table Hellas Verona on Sunday.

The ninth-placed hosts welcome their free-scoring opponents to the Bentegodi following back-to-back Serie A defeats, while Gian Piero Gasperini's visitors are well-placed to achieve a third consecutive top four finish after a run of five wins from six.

Match preview

Still struggling to digest their European elimination at the hands of Real Madrid in midweek, Atalanta must bounce back quickly in order to keep pace in the tightly-contested race for Champions League qualification.

In La Dea's second-ever campaign at the elite level of continental competition - having remarkably reached the quarter-finals last season - they went out in the last-16, losing 4-1 on aggregate after defeat in Madrid on Tuesday.

However, the Bergamo side do have a clear route back to the big time available, courtesy of their fine Serie A form in recent weeks: since the start of February, only leaders Inter (with 21) have picked up more points than Atalanta's 16.

Gian Piero Gasperini's men have demonstrated their attacking intent once again throughout 2020-21, racking up 63 league goals so far – again, a tally bettered only by ruthless Inter – and scoring at least three goals on 13 separate occasions.

The most recent of those multi-goal blitzes came at the expense of struggling Spezia last week, as forgotten man Mario Pasalic bagged a brace in the Bergamaschi's 3-1 home win.

Only two points clear, though, of closest contenders Napoli - who still have a game in hand - they are under pressure to continue their positive run in the top flight, ahead of a tricky trip to Veneto this Sunday.

Atalanta have picked up four points in their last two away games against Verona after losing their previous five games at the Bentegodi and have not suffered consecutive away defeats in Serie A since November 2017.

So, after returning empty-handed from San Siro last time they were on the road, Gasperini will be determined to keep that record unchanged, while securing maximum points in a head-to-head with one of his biggest fans.

As Verona's highly-rated coach Ivan Juric once played under his opposite number this week - and was his assistant during a brief, unsuccessful spell at Inter - few would have been surprised by the Croatian tactician's heralding of Gasperini as "the best coach in Italy" ahead of their latest meeting; labelling himself a mere pupil of the Atalanta manager's "total football" approach.

His erstwhile colleague comes to town as Juric's home side have lost their last two league games - the last time they suffered three defeats in a row was back in May 2018 - and are in danger of seeing their season peter out into mid-table obscurity, with several rounds yet to play.

Despite a strong offensive effort in defeat to Sassuolo last time out, the Scaligeri leaked three goals, continuing a worrying trend for the previously solid Venetian outfit.

After a promising start to the season, in which they could at one stage boast the best defence in the top flight, Verona have contrived to concede 11 in their last seven games. Far from a tidal wave of goals against, that still does not bear comparison with their prior record of 21 in the first 20 matches of the season, which earned them a reputation for resilience and exemplary organisation.

Furthermore, following a previous streak of four consecutive clean sheets on home turf, Hellas have conceded in each of their last 10 Serie A matches at the Bentegodi - their longest such run since mid-2016.

Encountering one of the most potent attacking forces in Calcio this weekend, Juric will be all too aware that such inadvertent generosity must be avoided at all costs if he is to gain just a second career win over the manager he most admires.

Hellas Verona Serie A form:
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • L

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

Atalanta BC form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

Atalanta's goalscoring wing-back Robin Gosens suffered an adductor injury in Madrid on Tuesday and could now be forced to sit out the trip to Verona, while fellow wide man Hans Hateboer remains out of contention and back-up option Bosko Sutalo is doubtful due to an ankle problem. Therefore, Joakim Maehle and Matteo Ruggeri could line up on the flanks for La Dea.

Goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini is expected to return to the XI after an extended first-team run for his deputy Marco Sportiello, with Remo Freuler also set to come back in from the start following his controversial suspension in the Champions League. Up front, Duvan Zapata could take over from Colombian compatriot Luis Muriel, despite the former's lack of goals in recent weeks.

Unfortunately for the home side, their injury list remains stubbornly long and those missing last time out are not expected to return until after the international break. Kevin Ruegg (ankle), Nikola Kalinic (thigh), Marco Benassi (calf), Ebrima Colley (knee) and Ronaldo Vieira (thigh) will therefore be unavailable to head coach Ivan Juric.

Portuguese midfielder Miguel Veloso should see off young Ivan Ilic's claims for a start alongside Adrien Tameze in the centre of the Verona midfield, while Kevin Lasagna leads the line in Kalinic's continued absence.

Hellas Verona possible starting lineup:
Silvestri; Gunter, Ceccherini, Dimarco; Faraoni, Veloso, Tameze, Lazovic; Barak, Zaccagni; Lasagna

Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Gollini; Toloi, Romero, Djimsiti; Maehle, De Roon, Freuler, Ruggeri; Pasalic, Ilicic; Zapata

We say: Hellas Verona 1-2 Atalanta BC

Tactical grand master Gian Piero Gasperini can edge out his student on Sunday, as Atalanta will be fuelled by their midweek disappointment and subsequent determination to achieve a third straight Champions League qualification.

Generally setting up in similar formations - with two creative players behind a lone front man - the visitors' abundance of individual quality in the final third should ultimately prove the difference between the sides.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 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.Under 3.5:data

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