MX23RW : Saturday, April 10 18:18:26| >> :120:24457:24457:
Feb 10, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at KKWing Stadium
AtalantaAtalanta BC
3-1
NapoliNapoli
Zapata (10'), Pessina (16', 78')
Luis Palomino (7')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Lozano (53')
Hysaj (25'), Zielinski (57'), Di Lorenzo (75'), Insigne (90+2')

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

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Coppa Italia clash between Atalanta BC and Napoli, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Following their goalless draw in last week's first leg, Atalanta BC and Napoli reconvene in Bergamo on Wednesday, with a place in the Coppa Italia final at stake.

Holders Napoli seek to take another step towards retaining the trophy, while the hosts bid to keep alive their dream of a first cup triumph in nearly 60 years.


Match preview

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini during the match on January 23, 2021© Reuters

Both sides vying to meet either Inter Milan or Juventus in May's Coppa Italia final endured unsatisfactory outcomes at the weekend, in Serie A encounters they were hotly tipped to win.

Atalanta seemed to have their home game against Torino well under control after going 3-0 up before the half-hour mark, as goals from Josip Ilicic, Robin Gosens and Luis Muriel put them into an apparently unassailable lead. However, a Toro side transformed under new coach Davide Nicola then salvaged a third consecutive comeback draw, with Federico Bonazzoli's late header ultimately completing their revival.

After such a deflating result, La Dea must quickly get back on their feet for the second of three meetings with their Neapolitan counterparts this month - with this two-legged cup tie soon to be followed by a Serie A fixture.

Parts two and three of the trilogy could prove critically important to the Bergamaschi's hopes of turning their abundant promise and inherent 'watchability' into something more solid and silver this season.

The first leg of the semi-final may have ended 0-0 at Stadio Diego Maradona, but Atalanta had the best scoring opportunities, forcing several saves from Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina.

Despite missing out on the opportunity to take away a precious away goal advantage, Gian Piero Gasperini's team will still start as favourites on Wednesday, but can expect another testing tussle with the Partenopei, who they are locked with on 37 points in the Serie A standings - albeit having played a game more.

Napoli players including Tiemoue Bakayoko pictured on January 10, 2021© Reuters

If Atalanta were downhearted at the final whistle last weekend, then Napoli were downright desolate after their loss to a rapidly improving Genoa side at Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

Veteran forward Goran Pandev's double against his former club, allied to Mattia Perin's ongoing excellence in goal saw Gennaro Gattuso's men slip to a 2-1 defeat, in which they struck the woodwork twice - from Andrea Petagna's header and a Lorenzo Insigne volley. Though Matteo Politano fired in late on for the visitors, it proved too little, too late and any lingering hopes of a Scudetto challenge have now been extinguished.

The continuing battle between Gattuso and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis surely only has one 'winner', after Napoli's temperamental custodian was reportedly furious after their latest defeat. The two upcoming games against Atalanta - followed by a crunch clash with Juventus - are apparently set to be decisive for the future of his similarly tempestuous coach, as candidates such as Rafa Benitez and Max Allegri wait in the wings.

Defensive mainstay Kalidou Koulibaly scored the opening goal in the previous round and spoke out in support of his manager before last week's opening leg, claiming that this current Napoli unit are one of the best in which he has featured so far. However, the Senegalese star will be sorely missed by his boss on Wednesday, having tested positive for COVID-19 in the intervening period.

Gattuso took the radical step of switching to a back three, helmed by Koulibaly, to combat Atalanta's fluent attack in the first leg - the first time he has done so since taking charge in 2019. The embattled former Milan manager may have to come up with another tactical masterstroke upon his return to Lombardy this week, if he is to keep his side on course for back-to-back Coppa Italia triumphs.

Napoli's last trip to the Gewiss Stadium came last July, ending in a 2-0 defeat, while the clubs' first league encounter of the season ended 4-1 to the Nerazzurri in Naples. A score draw would be enough for the Partenopei to progress this week though, so writing them off entirely would be reckless.

Atalanta BC Coppa Italia form: WWD
Atalanta BC form (all competitions): DWWLDD

Napoli Coppa Italia form: WWD
Napoli form (all competitions): LLWWDL


Team News

Atalanta's Marten de Roon with Jose Luis Palomino after the match on January 23, 2021© Reuters

Atalanta have a dilemma to solve regarding their influential wing-back position, as both Joakim Maehle and Hans Hateboer are set to miss out on Wednesday. Centre-back Rafael Toloi adapted to a role on the right in the second half against Torino and could continue to cover. If not, young Bosko Sutalo would come in.

As Cristian Romero is suspended, Mattia Caldara and Jose Luis Palomino will compete for a place in Gian Piero Gasperini's three-man defence.

Recently returned from injury, Mario Pasalic is a candidate to play in support of striker Duvan Zapata, or Luis Muriel could instead be offered the chance to join his Colombian compatriot in a front two.

Visiting coach Gennaro Gattuso is not expected to retain the three-man back line he employed in Naples, particularly as Kalidou Koulibaly is absent due to COVID-19. Back-up defensive pair Amir Rrahmani and Nikola Maksimovic must instead step up to the plate, given that Kostas Manolas is also out of action until the end of the month.

Still quarantined, Faouzi Ghoulam is ruled out, with Dries Mertens and Fabian Ruiz - just returned from self-isolation himself - doubtful to start.

Tiemoue Bakayoko is likely to be teamed with Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas in midfield, while it remains to be seen whether Gattuso will opt for a diminutive front trio or introduce Victor Osimhen as a more typical 'number nine'.

Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Gollini; Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti; Sutalo, De Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Pessina; Muriel, Zapata

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Rrahmani, Hysaj; Elmas, Bakayoko, Zielinski; Lozano, Osimhen, Insigne


SM words green background

We say: Atalanta BC 2-1 Napoli

Despite facing the jeopardy of conceding a potentially fatal away goal, Atalanta can exploit Napoli's defensive absences with their characteristic verve and clinical finishing.

Undermined by the respected Koulibaly-Manolas pairing missing out and their recent inconsistency, the cup holders could bow out at the semi-final stage, leaving La Dea to dream on until May.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or draw 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.Home/Draw:data


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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Inter Milan29225268274171
2AC Milan30196557352263
3Juventus29178458263259
4Atalanta BCAtalanta29177568363258
5Napoli29182963342956
6Lazio2816484538752
7Roma2915685344951
8Hellas VeronaHellas Verona29118103834441
9SassuoloSassuolo29101094848040
10Sampdoria29106133943-436
11Bologna2997133945-634
12Udinese2989123239-733
13Genoa29711113141-1032
14SpeziaSpezia3088144055-1532
15Fiorentina2979133646-1030
16BeneventoBenevento2979133054-2430
17Torino28412124152-1124
18CagliariCagliari2957173150-1922
19Parma30311162959-3020
20Crotone3043233777-4015

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