Atalanta: preparing for the Champions League
Gian Piero Gasperini led his team to a third place in the Serie A in the 2018-2019 season. For Atalanta Bergamo, this was the highest ever ranking in their history and it included qualification for UEFA Champions League. Clubs as Internazionale, AC Milan and AS Roma were ranked lower. History has been made, based on a non-typical Italian style of play and good scouting. A back-three and high intensity in pressing are one of the keywords of Atalanta’s playing style.
In this blog, we will take a closer look at one of the key positions in the playing style of Atalanta with the use of player roles and what new signing Malinovskyi could add to the team.
An overview of their team in the last season using Player Roles is displayed in the header image. With only Gianluca Mancini moving to AS Roma, provisionally almost the entire team stayed in Bergamo and the team is ready for their Champions League campaign, including the likes of new players. Atalanta bought for example centre forward Luis Muriel from Sevilla FC and Ruslan Malinovskyi from KRC Genk.
Inverted wing backs Hateboer, Gosens and Castagne
Both in and out possession, the (wing) backs of Atalanta Bergamo have a distinct role in the playing style of the team. Based on their style of play in the last season, using the Player Roles model of SciSports, all three main players on the two positions Hateboer, Castagne and Gosens can be described as inverted wing backs.
The inverted wing back:
The inverted wing back has similar duties as the wing back, however, when attacking he tends to cut inside, running into space and attempts to shoot from the edge of the box from time to time.
The three players share a unique profile, which can also be found in their Contribution Ratings in our SciSports platform. We visualized all fullbacks in the Serie A based on their Contribution Ratings and their SciSkill Score in the following visual:
It is very clear that the offensive contribution of Hateboer, Gosens and Castagne is high. The three players have a high individual impact on the scoreline. They are top of the league for fullbacks. If we further breakdown the offensive actions in more specific ones in which we compare all fullbacks in the Serie A based on their contribution in shots, passes, crosses, take ons and dribbles using percentile scores, we see their mutual differences:
We already saw that Castagne had the highest offensive contribution. Especially in shots, passes and crosses, he contributes a lot to the scoreline compared to the other fullbacks in the league. Comparing Gosens and Castagne, it is especially striking that the Dutch/German fullback contributes a lot more in dribbles and take ons compared to Castagne. The Belgium fullback contributes more in shots, passes and crosses.
Hans Hateboer contributes compared to the previous two players a lot less in passing but is at the same level in terms of shots and crosses.
Characteristic for all three players is their high contribution in shots, all three are in the top of the league and deliver shots with high-level contribution. Next to that, the three fullbacks added 12 Serie A goals to the Atalanta total of 77 (16%).
So far, Atalanta brought in 3 significant transfers. One of them is Ruslan Malinovskyi. The Ukrainian midfielder was one of the key players in KRC Genk’s title last season. His main player role is ‘Advanced Playmaker’ but he also played in ‘Deep Lying Playmaker’ and ‘Box-to-Box midfielder’ roles, as shown in the image below:
The multifunctional player was in offensive terms one of best midfielders in the Jupiler Pro League last season. Especially in his passing, take ons and dribbles, he was among the best and of high value for KRC Genk. To express this value in other numbers: Malinovskyi scored 16 goals and assisted 16 over the entire last season.
The main question is whether he is complementary or similar to the other midfielders of Atalanta. Based on their Player Roles, Malinovskyi has the highest similarity with Mario Pasalic (90%). The loanee of Chelsea FC played over 1.600 minutes in the Serie A last season. If we compare both players on their Contribution Ratings, Pasalic contributed the most in his shots whereas Malinovskyi contributed relatively more in passing, take ons and dribbles. Both have similarities in terms of player roles, but the way they contribute to the scoreline is different. Given the multifunctionality of Malinovskyi, the addition of him to the team could be proven to be a very interesting one.
With the addition of Malinovskyi and their unique playing style, it would be very interesting to see whether Atalanta is able to sustain their performances in the Serie A and the Champions League!
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