By Eskender Tamrat

When: 12:00PM EST, Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Where: Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia, Bergamo, Italy

Betting Line: OFF

TV Coverage: beIN Sports, fuboTV

 

Two gray-haired managers will lock horns on Saturday in Serie A's opening fixture of the weekend, as Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta B.C. (18-6-8) host Roberto Donadoni's Bologna F.C. 1909 (9-8-15). Both sides snatched a point away from home in the previous round. Atalanta held second-placed A.S. Roma (23-3-6) to a draw, while Bologna shared the spoils at lowly U.S. Città di Palermo (3-7-22), playing with ten-man for the vast majority of the game.

Goals from Andrea Masiello and Jasmin Kurtic in the reverse fixture helped Atalanta to end November with a perfect record. It also marked Atlanta's longest winning streak, as the 2-0 at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara was their sixth win in a row.

Atalanta could be without Ervin Zukanović and Leonardo Spinazzola due to injuries, while the visitors will miss Chilean midfielder Erick Pulgar, who received his marching orders before the half hour mark against Palermo.

Bologna

Following two defeats in succession, Bologna hoped to secure their first win since mid-March when they visited a struggling Palermo side. But the early sending off restricted them to be cautious, although Donadoni didn't make any changes until the final 15 minutes.

At the end, the goalless draw should not be counted as a bad result, as Bologna maintained their 14 points gap to eighteenth-placed F.C. Crotone (5-6-21). Despite the fact that there are only four teams between them in the standings, Bologna are assured of finishing the season ahead of Palermo, as the Sicily club trailed them by some 19 points with six games left on the calendar.

Atalanta

Atalanta halted Roma's run in the previous week, which basically ended the whispered talk of the title race in Italy. They even took the lead at Roma, with Kurtic netted his sixth goal of the campaign, before Serie A's joint top-scorer Edin Dzeko leveled matters after the break.

Decorated captain Alejandro Gomez (affectionately nicknamed Papu) is the only player to reach double figures for the fifth-placed side, as the man from Buenos Aires found the net 14 times so far this term. The next three players on the list only scored six times each in the league. The prospect of European football in Bergamo is blossoming, and time will tell how Atalanta cope with the additional Thursday night fixtures next season.

Key Stats

1. The 7-1 defeat at Inter Milan (17-5-10) could steal attention, but Atalanta won three of their last five away games and draw at Champions League-bound Roma.

2. U.S. Sassuolo Calcio (10-5-17) collected as many points as Bologna with a better goal difference record, but Bologna currently sits at 14th ahead of them because of Serie A's rules which pit head-to-head records before goal difference.

3. Atalanta and Bologna have a very competitive head-to-head record. Bologna came on top in 37 of the 104 meetings, while Atalanta won 35 times.

The Pick

It's becoming hard to predict Atalanta's results. When we expected them to seal to a comfortable victory at home against Sassuolo, they needed a scrappy equalizer to snatch a point. And while we were counting on Roma to continue the faintest title hopes, they all but dashed the dream of neutrals with another draw. Hoping for the end of stalemates, we went for a narrow Atalanta win for this one.

Atalanta 2, Bologna 1