Before the 2011/12 Serie A campaign had gone underway, Atalanta seemed already down and out following the six-point penalty inflicted on them by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).
The team from Bergamo received the penalty following their involvement in the latest match-fixing scandal that again unsettled football in Italy.
At first, Atalanta also had two squad members – Cristiano Doni and Christian Manfredini – banned for their involvement in the scandal. Doni was suspended for three-and-a-half years, virtually ending his career, while Manfredini was banned for three months.
Whereas Doni’s suspension was confirmed by the law courts, Manfredini was cleared of any wrongdoing and played in the team’s opening fixtures.
Doni has been an inspirational figure for Atalanta since 1998. He netted 100 goals for the club following his move from Brescia. However, this season Atalanta will have to do without the veteran midfielder if they are to extend their stay in the top flight.
Despite all setbacks, last season’s Serie B champions started the season in style as they took the top division by storm, collecting 10 points from their opening four fixtures.
Atalanta have already cancelled the six-point penalty. At the moment also lie above the relegation zone, brimming with confidence ahead of this weekend’s tough away clash at Roma before the Serie A stops for the international break.
Had Atalanta not been penalised, they would be sitting on top of the Serie A standings, two points clear of Juventus and Udinese... a remarkable achievement for any Serie A newcomer.
Coach Stefano Colantuono is proving to be Atalanta’s winning card. The Roma-born coach has already done extremely well in Bergamo during his previous stint between 2005 and 2007.
In 2006, Colantuono helped the team make a quick return to the top division and a year later, he led them to an impressive seventh place in the Serie A.
Following that, Colantuono’s career took a nosedive as he was fired in succession by Palermo and Torino before he made a headline-grabbing return to Atalanta in 2010.
Under his charge, the team bounced back to where they belong after topping last season’s Serie B with 79 points.
It is typical of sides coached by Colantuono to start the season firing on all cylinders.
But, perhaps, this season’s bright start is even more encouraging as Atalanta did not take long to recover lost ground.
The Nerazzurri have some promising players such as Ezequiel Matias Schelotto in the team.
The ex-Catania and Cesena winger has become a regular fixture in Ciro Ferrara’s Italy U-21 side.
Colantuono is a shrewd coach who is relishing the chance to revive his career in the top flight.
Moreover, Atalanta have a good blend of up-and-coming youngsters and experienced players within their ranks.
Serie A statistics
1 team, Cesena, is still without a point. On Saturday, they were beaten by a second string Milan side at the San Siro, a result that left Cesena rooted to the bottom of the standings without a point. At Inter, the change of coach brought about the desired effect as the Nerazzurri left it late to beat Bologna 3-1 away. This was Inter’s first success of the 2011-12 season. Roma put an end to a stuttering start thanks to a 1-0 away win at Parma who on Sunday conceded their third defeat of the season.
2nd successive draw for Juventus, who came from a goal down in rainy Sicily to share the spoils with hosts Catania. Since 2007, Catania never managed to beat Juventus at their own Massimino Stadium – three draws and two defeats. Verona-based Chievo came from behind to hand Genoa their first defeat of the term. Had Genoa conserved their one-goal advantage until the final whistle, then it would have been their first win in Verona in almost three years.
3 goalless draws in last weekend’s fixtures. Cagliari and Udinese took a point each in a balanced match. The Sardinians have last prevailed at home against Udinese in January 2009 when they beat them 2-0. Lazio and Palermo also could not break the deadlock. For the Sicilians this was their first away positive result. On Saturday, Fiorentina and Napoli both had their moments but in the end they had to settle for a 0-0 draw at the Stadio San Paolo for the second year running.
3 players – Archimede Morleo (Bologna), Dario Dainelli (Genoa) and Andrea Esposito (Lecce) – got sent off. Meanwhile, one of the three penalties awarded by referees last weekend went off target. Sergio Pellissier saw his 60th-minute effort blocked by Genoa veteran Sebastian Frey. Minutes later, the Chievo striker made amends by equalising for his side. Elsewhere, Bologna and Inter were awarded a penalty each from which Alessandro Diamanti and Diego Milito made no mistake.
17 goals were scored on the fourth day: 10 coming from the hosts and seven from the visitors, who managed two wins. Total number of goals scored so far is 100. Neither hat-tricks nor own goals were recorded. Siena captain Emanuele Calaio grabbed the only brace of the weekend. Two players – Diego Milito (Inter) and Davide Moscardelli (Chievo) – came on as substitutes and scored. Rodrigo Palacio (Genoa) currently tops the scorers’ list with four goals.
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