Atalanta has been the surprise of the Champions League after squeaking into the round of 16, but now the Italian side is the upset special for many in the quarterfinals against PSG. Boasting a team of relatively unknown players on a global scale but playing a brand of soccer that produces countless goals, Gian Piero Gasperini’s side is looking to slay the giants and make a run to the final in Lisbon with a team full of confidence and momentum. Here’s what to know about the boys from Bergamo.
Champions League titles
Atalanta has never won the Champions League, as this is the team’s first ever participation in the competition.
Status for next season’s Champions League
Atalanta has officially qualified for next season’s UCL for earning a top-four finish in Serie A.
UCL group stage results
Sept. 18: Dinamo Zagreb 4, Atalanta 0
Oct. 1: Shakhtar Donetsk, Atalanta 1
Oct. 22: Manchester City 5, Atalanta 1
Nov. 6: Atalanta 1, Manchester City 1
Nov. 26: Atalanta 2, Dinamo Zagreb 2
Dec. 11: Atalanta 3, Shakhtar Donetsk 0
Knockout stage results
Round of 16
Feb. 19: Atalanta 4, Valencia 1
March 10: Atalanta 4, Valencia 3
Aug. 12: Atalanta vs. PSG, 3 p.m. ET on CBS All Access
Atalanta plays a 3-4-3 to devastating effect, overloading in attack and making defenses pay. This is the highest scoring team in Italy, grabbing 96 goals compared to Juventus’ 73, which when you consider Juve has Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala, that’s impressive. Atalanta regularly scores three or four goals a game and has even scored over six goals on multiple occasions this season. They get forward quickly, use precise passing and are as well oiled of a machine in attack as any team left in the competition.
Josip Ilicic: There are a lot to choose from, truthfully. But Atalanta has five players with double digit goals and figure to finish the season with three players having scored 20 goals. The leader is Illicic with 21 in 33 games, scoring five in the Champions League. The Slovenian striker just gets better with age, and at 32, he’s having far and away the best season of his career. He’s strong with his feet, great in the air and the leader of this team in attack.
Facing PSG is no small task, but Atalanta has nothing to lose. That mentality has gotten them far in this competition and could see them advance. They play free and without a worry in the world, and they are just thrilled to be where they are and to live in moment. In a one-off game, anything can happen, and a team like Atalanta is never out of it due to its incredible attacking ability. The squad will believe they can beat PSG, and they just might do itif they remain composed at the back and the attack lives up to its lofty standards.