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When they take to the field on Wednesday evening, to contest just the fifth Coppa Italia final in their history, consistent overachievers Atalanta will have only one aim in mind – turning praise and promise into something more solid and silver.
Bringing a trophy back to Bergamo after a traumatic 18 months in the Lombardian city would not only prove a crowning moment for Gian Piero Gasperini’s talented side, but also confirm that they are made of the sternest stuff when on the big stage.
A reputation for free-flowing, high-scoring football has not yet translated into titles, with a runners-up finish in the league possible next weekend and a similar role as bridesmaids in the 2019 Coppa decider – which they lost to Lazio – ranking alongside some fine forays into Europe of late.
Achieving Champions League qualification for three years in a row is, nonetheless, a remarkable record for Gasperini and company; with La Dea guaranteeing their latest passage to Europe’s top table in style at the weekend.
Following their frantic 4-3 win over Genoa, the second-placed Bergamaschi have sealed their top-four place by virtue of a superior head-to-head record against fellow cup contenders Juventus, who sit fifth – three points behind them heading into Sunday’s final round.
Securing their seasonal goal with a round to spare, despite having such heavily-financed clubs as Juve, Napoli and Milan all closing in behind, bears testament to Atalanta’s stellar form throughout 2021. In fact, the Nerazzurri have lost just one of their last 17 league outings – to new champions Inter – winning 13 of them in total, as goals have rained in from all quarters: 17 coming in their last five games.
Top scorer Luis Muriel racked up his 25th strike of the season last week, despite being an infrequent starter for much of the campaign, while wing-back Robin Gosens has plundered 12 goals so far – the prolific pair helping their team to a league-leading total of 62 goals since the turn of the year.
Atalanta will therefore bring a confident and versatile squad to Emilia-Romagna for this season-defining cup final clash. Having already beaten Napoli 3-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals and seen off Lazio in the last eight, they are now one short step away from emulating the club’s famed Coppa-winning side of 1963.