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Nov 20, 2021 at 2pm UK
AtalantaAtalanta BC
Pasalic (18', 41'), Zapata (38' pen.), Muriel (83'), Malinovskyi (89')
Koopmeiners (10'), Pasalic (71')
FT(HT: 3-1)
N'Zola (11', 90+1')
Gyasi (5'), Sala (36'), Hristov (49')

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

:Headline: Preview: Atalanta BC vs. Spezia - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Atalanta BC and Spezia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Following a sticky spell in October, Atalanta BC will seek to continue this month's winning ways when Serie A resumes, as they welcome Spezia to Bergamo on Saturday.

While the fourth-placed hosts edged out Cagliari just before the international break, their Ligurian visitors also claimed maximum points - with just their third win of a difficult second season among the elite.

Match preview

In the context of a stellar few years for Atalanta, head coach Gian Piero Gasperini may have mixed feelings about the opening period of their current Serie A campaign, which has been punctuated by several breaks for international football.

A commendable tally of 22 points from 12 league matches saw La Dea equal their best start at this point of a top-flight season; a total which surpasses last term, when they went on to finish third. However, 'Gasp' has also presided over a run in which Atalanta have conceded goals in each of their last eight games, and their form has significantly faltered on home turf.

The Bergamaschi have failed to win in their last four fixtures at the Gewiss Stadium; including three in the league, which leaves them ranked a lowly 15th in the home form table.

A late capitulation in the Champions League to Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Manchester United followed hot on the heels of a 2-2 draw with Lazio, when only Marten de Roon's late equaliser saved their skins and kept them a point above the Romans in the table.

Therefore, a 2-1 victory in Sardinia just before the break was warmly welcomed by the Atalanta faithful, who will be hoping their heroes can rediscover their golden touch in Bergamo - against opponents who have yet to beat them at Italy's elite level.

Just a point accrued from two Serie A games against Saturday's hosts - following a goalless draw and a 3-1 away defeat during their debut top-flight season - demonstrates the difficulty Spezia could have when they travel north this weekend.

Not only are the Aquilotti also troubled by the typical 'second season syndrome' that afflicts many teams surviving a first campaign in the top division, but they have begun the season leaking goals at an alarming rate.

In all, Thiago Motta's men have conceded a total of 26, which leaves them level with fellow strugglers Cagliari and Salernitana at the bottom of the defensive charts; and they have a particular concern about seeing out games in the crucial final half-hour.

Indeed, the Ligurians have let in the most league goals during the last 30 minutes - at a rate of one per match - which has contributed to an even more shocking record of conceding an average of three per game away from home.

Though Spezia managed to topple Torino at home last time out, such dismal form on the road is not only a concern ahead of this weekend's match, but Serie A's 16th-placed side must also visit both Inter and Roma in the coming month.

Atalanta BC Serie A form:
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W

Atalanta BC form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W

Spezia Serie A form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • W

Team News

While wing-backs Robin Gosens and Hans Hateboer remain on the road to recovery, the pair will not feature for Atalanta this weekend, but captain Rafael Toloi does return to bolster Gian Piero Gasperini's defensive options.

However, his centre-back colleague Matteo Lovato sustained a thigh injury on duty with Italy's Under-21s, and was forced off during the Azzurrini's match against Ireland in midweek.

The hosts otherwise have a clean bill of health, so Marten de Roon should be restored to central midfield after a stint helping out in the back three, and eight-goal top scorer Duvan Zapata will start up front.

Spezia also have several players on the verge of a comeback, with the nearest being Colombian forward Kevin Agudelo, who has returned to training after a month out with a fractured toe. Both Arkadiusz Reca and Mehdi Bourabia, though, are still doubtful ahead of the match.

As Dimitrios Nikolau must serve a suspension for accumulated bookings, Petko Hristov is poised to return to the back four in a probable 4-2-3-1 formation.

Leading the line for the visitors should be M'Bala Nzola, who has yet to score this term, while Spezia's last 10 goals have been netted by nine different players. The only man with two strikes during that period is Daniele Verde - top scorer with three, despite often being consigned to the bench.

Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Musso; Demiral, Palomino, Toloi; Zappacosta, De Roon, Freuler, Maehle; Pasalic, Malinovskyi; Zapata

Spezia possible starting lineup:
Provedel; Amian, Erlic, Hristov, Bastoni; Maggiore, Kovalenko; Verde, Sala, Gyasi; Nzola

We say: Atalanta BC 3-1 Spezia

Though they have not yet torn teams apart as they did so often at their peak last season, Atalanta have managed to accumulate points steadily and are always capable of scoring from a range of sources.

As ever, the Nerazzurri's wide men could play a crucial role in exploiting their opponents' greatest flaws, and Spezia look vulnerable to their combination of pace and power.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win 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 Win:data

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