Having both suffered Serie A setbacks at the weekend, Atalanta BC and Fiorentina convene at the Gewiss Stadium on Thursday, as they clash in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals.
The hosts were beaten finalists in two of the last three years, while their visitors made it to this stage thanks to a spectacular win over Napoli in the previous round.
Following last month’s 2-0 victory over Serie A counterparts Venezia in their last-16 tie, Atalanta have now won 16 of their last 17 Coppa Italia matches on home soil, keeping 10 clean sheets in the process.
That remarkable streak has helped them to a couple of finals in recent times – including last season’s defeat to Juventus – but La Dea are still seeking to add another national cup to their first and only triumph back in 1963.
To continue their path to this year’s showpiece, the Nerazzurri will have to improve on some less than impressive recent form at the Gewiss Stadium, which contrasts starkly with that stunning Coppa record at their Bergamo headquarters.
Just three wins from 12 attempts there leaves Atalanta inside the bottom half of the rankings for points taken on home soil, with the league’s fifth-placed side most recently emerging pointless from their clash with Cagliari on Sunday – when goalkeeper Juan Musso was sent off and the visitors’ makeshift striker Gaston Pereiro scored twice; consigning them to a 2-1 defeat.
Indeed, one of the Bergamaschi’s league losses at home came against Thursday’s opponents back in September, when they were beaten by the same scoreline – the now departed Dusan Vlahovic bagging a brace for Fiorentina.
In addition to their patchy results of late, coach Gian Piero Gasperini will be growing concerned about a run of only one goal from his side’s last three matches, which is totally out of character with their generally free-scoring ways.
Therefore, a return to cup competition could ease any tension permeating their stuttering Serie A campaign, and they will no doubt be helped by meeting a similarly front-foot side.
Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Italiano pictured on September 21, 2021© Reuters
Renowned for scoring freely and entertaining fans and neutrals alike, Vincenzo Italiano’s Fiorentina team made a slow start to life without their top-scoring talisman – crashing to a 3-0 home reverse against Lazio at the weekend.
The departure of Vlahovic for old foes Juventus inevitably took its toll on the Tuscan side, and Italiano’s new-look attack will inevitably need to fare better at the Gewiss Stadium.
They travel to Bergamo amid a typically inconsistent run of form, having followed up their 5-2 destruction of nine-man Napoli in the last round of the Coppa with a 6-0 success over Genoa, then drawn 1-1 with improving Cagliari before Saturday’s defeat.
Now eighth in the Serie A standings, the Viola turn their thoughts back to the cup, in which they overcame Serie B sides Cosenza and Benevento in the opening rounds.
Fiorentina’s most recent Coppa Italia triumph came as long ago as 2001, and since then they have only returned to the final once, in 2014. Under the management of Italiano, though, they have all the ingredients of a daring cup side, so will surely go full throttle to seal a place in the semi-finals.