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Coppa Italia: Showpiece Showdown at Stake in Bergamo


Coppa Italia: Showpiece Showdown at Stake in Bergamo

Atalanta vs Napoli

It’s all to play for in the Gewiss Stadium this week and a place in the final of the 2021 Coppa Italia is at stake.

Holders Napoli, who clinched their first major trophy in six seasons by beating Juventus 4-2 on penalties in last season’s final, up against the surprise package of Italian football, Atalanta, runners-up themselves in the competition a year earlier.

After last week’s goalless first-leg draw in Naples, a match of few opportunities, the majority of which fell to the visitors, this tie is delicately poised.

And with the winners set to face either Juventus or Inter Milan in a potentially mouth-watering showpiece, this has all the ingredients for some Coppa Italia 2021 highlights.

Talking Points

Both sides, level pegging in Serie A on 37 points (although Napoli have played a game fewer), come into this on the back of disappointing weekend results.

Atalanta were cruising at home to lowly Torino on Saturday as they opened up a 3-0 lead, only to inexplicably allow their opponents to roar back and claim a point.

It was a result which manager Gian Piero Gasperini attributed to fatigue. The only addition to his squad for this tie should be the return of Joakim Maehle as La Dea continue an unforgiving schedule of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League, where they face Real Madrid later this month.

Dutch full-back Hans Hateboer is also out.

Napoli, meanwhile, went down to a 2-1 defeat at Genoa in which Goran Pandev scored his first league brace since 2013 to consign his former club to defeat.

In a further blow, Kostas Manolas suffered bruising to his right ankle in that match and must be rated doubtful for midweek, while the Partenopei are already without Kalidou Koulibaly and Faouzi Ghoulam, who have tested positive for Covid, although Fabian Ruiz is due to return from the virus.

It means there will be plenty of pressure on Gennaro Gattuso who has faced constant speculation about his future in recent weeks and now faces an important seven days with reigning champions Juventus due in town next weekend.

The former Milan boss has complained of “being slaughtered” by the media and would love to be able to guide his side to back-to-back finals to silence some of the doubters.

On saying that, will there be a bigger incentive for Atalanta than trying to win the tournament for the first time in their near 60-year history.

It’s certainly all to play for.

History

This will be the third meeting between the clubs this season.

As well as last week’s goalless draw, Napoli stunned Atalanta in Serie A in mid-October with a four goal first half salvo – a result which ended Atalanta’s unbeaten start to the season after they had become the first side in Europe’s top five leagues since Real Madrid (1987) to score at least four goals in each of their opening three games of the campaign.

That was Napoli’s only victory against Atalanta in their past five encounters.

Last season, Atalanta won their home league meeting 2-0, courtesy of early second half goals from Mario Pasalic and Robin Gosens.

They also drew 2-2 in Naples when Josip Ilicic scored a late equaliser and won 2-1 at Napoli in the previous campaign when Duvan Zapata and Pasalic were the marksmen.

Atalanta also won at Napoli in the 2018 Coppa Italia quarter-finals when Timothy Castagne and Papu Gomez (who has recently moved to Sevilla in Spain) were on target.

While those results show how much Atalanta have improved in recent seasons, you won’t be surprised to know that, historically, Napoli have the edge.

They have tasted victory on 48 occasions, compared to Atalanta’s 29 successes and 33 draws.

Betting Tip

Napoli Asian Handicap +0.50 @ 1.98

Look at the SBOTOP Coppa Italia 2021 betting odds and Atalanta are clear favourites – something which surprises me.

The hosts are available to back 1X2 @ 1.93 and Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 2.21, whereas Napoli are further out with odds of 1X2 @ 3.40 and Asian Handicap +0.50 @ 1.98.

If there is to be a repeat of last season’s league meeting here – correct score 2-0 – then the payout is @ 10.00.

I can’t see another goalless draw and neither can most people when you assess odds of over 3.00 goals @ 2.13, total goal 2-3 @ 1.96 and 4-6 @ 2.76.

While I may normally edge towards Atalanta, I can see Gattuso being so determined to get to another final that it rubs off on his Napoli players.

That is why I am plumping for Napoli +0.50 on the Asian Handicap at 1.98.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 


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