Sunday, April 11, 2021

Prediction: Atalanta vs PSG

Verdict: Total goals over 2.5

Best odds: 4/7

Bookmaker: Betfair

Atalanta and Paris Saint-Germain are set to do battle for a place in the 2019/20 Champions League semifinals on Wednesday. The game will be played at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, and referee in charge will be Anthony Taylor from England.

Atalanta

Atalanta have been one of the most pleasant surprises of European football in the last two years. Having finished within the Serie A top four in 2018/19 and won a place in this competition, many believed it would be a one-off success, but they’ve managed to repeat the feat and will be playing in the Champions League again next season, regardless of their fortunes in Portugal.

Just like last time, Atalanta finished in third place in the Serie A this year, five points behind title winners Juventus, four behind Inter Milan in second place, and with the same tally (78) as Lazio in fourth. One of the most notable things regarding their domestic campaign is that they managed to score 98 goals; by far the most in the league. Only Manchester City (102) and Bayern Munich (100) scored more.

To have reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League is a great success for this club, the greatest in their history, and they can be proud of what they’ve done. Even if the journey ends here, they’ll have no regrets. To get here, they finished second in group C behind Manchester City, and ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb. They followed that up with a two-legged triumph over Valencia in the round of 16.

Atalanta’s recent form has been decent enough, with three wins, two draws and one loss in the last six matches in all competitions.

Team News

Coach Gian Pierro Gasperini will be without his team’s arguably biggest attacking weapons, Josip Ilicic, who has been absent for a month for personal reasons.  Ruslan Malinovskiy, Alejandro Gomez and Duvan Zapata are expected to form the attacking line. Goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini is out with an injury, which means Marco Sportiello, with his five starts all season, is likely to stand between the posts.

Paris Saint-Germain

Looking domestically, it could hardly have been a more successful season for Paris Saint-Germain. They won the treble – the Ligue 1 title, Coupe de France and Coupe de Ligue, but as strange as it may sound, they aren’t likely to be happy with that if they don’t cap it off with the Champions League trophy. A lot of money has been invested in their team in the last decade, all with the aim of picking up the most prestigious trophy in club football which has eluded them completely so far.

The Ligue 1 season was abandoned in early March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it was the only one of the top five European leagues to make that decision. PSG were crowned champions with a 12-point advantage and a game in hand on Olympique Marseille in second place.

The Parisians were drawn in the Champions League group A at the start of the season and they finished the stage top of the table, above Real Madrid, Club Brugge and Galatasaray. In the round of 16, they overcame a 1-2 deficit from the first leg against Borussia Dortmund by winning 2-0 at the Parc des Princes.

As for their form, six wins from the last six competitive matches speak for themselves, but they came for a price.

Team News

Kylian Mbappe, probably the world’s hottest prospect and most valuable player, was severely injured in the Coupe de France final against Saint-Etienne on July 24th, and though he has returned to training sooner than was initially expected, this game is still likely to come too soon for him to be involved. Midfielder Marco Veratti is injured too, while winger Angel Di Maria is suspended for this match.

Neymar is, however, fully fit, which certainly gives hope to PSG fans that the absence of Mbappe won’t prove too costly.

Conclusion

Given the quality of the teams and the way they play, PSG are the favorites to progress into the semifinal. But whatever happens on that front, we should see a fair number of goals.

Verdict: Total goals over 2.5

Best odds: 4/7

Bookmaker: Betfair

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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