Race for the Scudetto: Motta's masterpiece, Atalanta peaking and Allegri's out the door


Race for the Scudetto: Motta's masterpiece, Atalanta peaking and Allegri's out the door

Bologna players celebrate after beating Napoli at the weekend
Bologna players celebrate after beating Napoli at the weekendReuters
Bologna will play in next year's Champions League! Who would have thought that at the beginning of the season? Not me, not us! And let's be honest, this is really the biggest surprise of the season in Italy.

Thiago Motta has succeeded in something unthinkable, making talented players (their talent has never been in doubt) such as Riccardo Calafiori, Josh Zirkzee, Lewis Ferguson and other key players on the team look like champions.

We will talk about that and we will touch on Atalanta's great performance against Roma and the draw between Juventus and Salernitana. Let's see what else happened in the last weekend of Serie A action.

Surprise of the week: Juventus 1 Salernitana 1

Within minutes of the final whistle of the match, Stefano Colantuono's side was winning 1-0 at home against Juventus. Really something unexpected and resounding. Massimiliano Allegri and his boys currently can't win a game, they struggle against everyone. And it happened again last weekend in front of their own fans. It took a goal scored just seconds before the end of the match to avoid a painful and embarrassing defeat.

They managed to qualify for next season's Champions League somehow, but the Bianconeri's path in recent months is more or less that of a team fighting not to be relegated to Serie B. Surely it means that at the end of the season, Allegri will no longer be the Juventus coach. What's more, the doubts around the coach have created a disconnect within the group, which at some point stopped believing in the possibility of achieving league goals.

There is still the Coppa Italia final (on Wednesday against Atalanta), a competition the Bianconeri can win (even if they will play against a superior side), but Allegri's future is now sealed. He should be replaced by Thiago Motta but this is not certain yet as Bologna's boss has a lot of offers. In any case, kudos to Colantuono and his Salernitana - despite a total absence of meaning in the league they continue to do their best.

Performance of the week: Atalanta

Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta are really scary at the moment and seem like a perfect, flawless team. Roma know that well now, too. On Sunday, coming back from a huge commitment in the Europa League, they were unable to hold off Gianluca Scamacca and his teammates. Atalanta managed to shoot on goal multiple times. Only keeper Mile Svilar and his two posts, along with many errors in finishing, prevented a heavy loss for the Giallorossi.

An incredible show of strength, following another great game in Europe against Marseille. Gasperini and his boys also got their hands on Champions League qualification via Serie A, in addition to playing in the Europa League and Coppa Italia finals.

It's a historic and unforgettable season already for the club from Bergamo. Gasperini is doing a sensational job and no doubt his team are giving their all and reaping the fruits of years and years of work.

The Nerazzurri were going twice as fast on Sunday, Roma's players could neither defend nor buffer Atalanta's attacks, while Teun Koopmeiners and teammates attacked with their heads down, producing one goal chance after another. At the moment perhaps only Bayer Leverkusen can stop Atalanta, arguably the fittest team in the league and perhaps in Europe from an athletic standpoint, one of the great strengths of Gasperini's work.

Team of the week: Bologna

Thiago Motta has taken Bologna back to the Champions League after sixty years. Maybe we haven't fully understood it yet and it is necessary to say it once more: It has been 60 years since Bologna were last in the Champions League!

The celebration in Bologna was stunning, so many fans poured into the streets of the city to celebrate their new heroes, from Thiago Motta, the real architect of this masterpiece, to the stars of the team, from Joshua Zirkzee and Riccardo Calafiori to Lewis Ferguson (injured) and great players such as Sam Beukema, Stefan Posch, Remo Freuler and others.

Giovanni Sartori has built a top team while spending relatively little money. Calafiori and Zirkzee cost about 13 million euros between the two of them. Two incredible deals. One just has to take their hat off to something like that. Motta made each player look stronger and that means doing a great job as a coach.

In short, Bologna returning to the Champions League is the result of a great team effort. It will be very difficult to succeed in keeping the team's stars together - there are many clubs interested in the various top players of the team starting with the coach, Juventus' top target for their bench (not only Juventus want him, though).

Bologna's president has the economic strength to set up a high-level multi-year project. In the summer it will be possible to test his ambitions for the future, but being able to keep even one of this year's protagonists would be another masterpiece. Congratulations Bologna!


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