European Football Tips: Atalanta's fairytale still alive

Gian Piero Gasperini
Can Gasperini pick his troops up?

Atalanta can't dwell on their defeat in the Coppa Italia final for too long if they are to qualify for the Champions League, writes James Horncastle, who has three bets at decent prices from Serie A...

Atalanta hammered Juventus 3-0 and should be confident in their ability to get something in Turin.

The Old Lady and the Goddess

Juventus v Atalanta
Sunday, 19:30
Live on Betfair Live Video

Atalanta need to pick themselves up and dust themselves off after Wednesday's defeat to Lazio in the Coppa Italia final. The club is seething over the inaction of the VAR who did not intervene when Bastos, already on a yellow card, handled the ball in the penalty area in the 25th minute. Had Atalanta been awarded a spot-kick and played 11v10 for the remainder of the game, the outcome would likely have been different.

Moving on from the bitterness the incident caused appears to be difficult. But Gian Piero Gasperini and his players can't allow it to compromise their remarkable season. Champions League qualification is in Atalanta's hands and while not a trophy in itself, it would be more lucrative than lifting the Coppa Italia.

The problem is they have to go to Juventus this Sunday. The champions are undefeated at home in Serie A but appear vulnerable at the moment. Part of that is down to an experimentation phase. Giorgio Chiellini's injury is also a factor. His injury when they played each other in the cup earlier in the season proved disastrous for the Old Lady.

Atalanta hammered Juventus 3-0 at home and should be confident in their ability to get something in Turin. They are Italy's top scorers after all and Duvan Zapata's record on the road is frightening. Juventus have not been helped by the continued uncertainty around Massimiliano Allegri's future - they confirmed his summer departure on Friday - and reports of a cracked dressing room. Atalanta are worth a punt @ 3.412/5.

High Stakes at the Castellani

Empoli v Torino
Sunday, 14:00
Live on Betfair Live Video

Empoli coach Aurelio Andreazzoli is aggrieved that his side will play a day after relegation battlers Udinese and Genoa. Shouldn't the fight for survival be contested simultaneously out of fairness? The Tuscans could find themselves at a psychological disadvantage by the time their game kicks off against Torino on Sunday afternoon.

Empoli are the form side among the escape artists. Then again they need to be if they are to avoid demotion to Serie B. Andreazzoli's crew won on the road for the first time this season last weekend. Back-to-back wins against Fiorentina and Sampdoria have moved Empoli within a point of free-falling Genoa.

Overtaking the imperilled Ligurians is a must if they are to remain in the division for another year. Genoa have the edge on head-to-head leaving Empoli with no option but to finish ahead of them. So far the Azzurri have made light of what looks a difficult run-in on paper. But with Torino and Inter to come the odds are still stacked firmly against them.

Torino have lost the fewest games away from home in Italy this season. Their defence is the one that travels best. Walter Mazzarri's side have broken a host of records over the course of the campaign and are still in with a slim chance of qualifying for the Champions League. The stakes are high for both teams at the Castellani.

Torino smashed Empoli 3-0 in December and have recently swept aside the other teams down the bottom. Andrea Belotti is finishing the season strong, seemingly determined to force his way back into Roberto Mancini's Italy squad. Take the Granata @ 2.727/4.

Genoa in peril

Genoa v Cagliari
Saturday, 17:00

Genoa are in a full state of panic. The Grifone's top flight status is at serious risk and the momentum against them. The silver lining is Genoa have the edge on head-to-head on Empoli and an easier run-in. They face teams with nothing to play for and go to Florence on the final day, a city at war with its football club. Who would have thought the decision to sell top scorer and star player Krzysztof Piatek in January would come back to haunt them?

Winless in eight league games, Genoa have failed to score in seven of their last 12. Cesare Prandelli's side have not kept a clean sheet since the middle of March. And yet this is a team that has gone undefeated against Juventus this season. They have upset Champions League chasers Atalanta and Lazio, and held Napoli at the San Paolo.

That Genoa find themselves on the precipice is simultaneously bizarre and entirely predictable. The habit of regularly cashing in on their best players at the half-way point inevitably sees them lose confidence and spiral.

Luckily for them Cagliari are safe from the drop but also out of the running for Europe. All they have to play for is the pride of a top half finish which - looking at their remaining games - is not beyond the realm of possibility. Empoli will be the Sardinians' biggest supporters over the next week as after Genoa they also face Udinese who aren't out of the woods yet either.

The trouble is Cagliari have been woeful away from the island this season. Their record on the road ranks 18th in the league although they have defeated Atalanta and held Torino behind enemy lines. One imagines the tension will be tough to cope with for Genoa. Prandelli will be without his best defender Cristian Romero too, hardly ideal preparation for an opponent with arguably the most formidable aerial attack in the league. Take Cagliari on Double Chance @ 2.526/4.

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