Serie A 2021/2022 Season Review Part three #1479 (Late)

League Review

End of a Memerble Era; Atalanta Miss out on Europe

Over the last half-decade, Atalanta has been a team in Italian football that virtually came out of nowhere and became European regulars. Atalanta, throughout their history, was never a team that found their way into Europe; they were typically season in and season out, finishing in the relegation zone or just above the relegation Zone and occasionally in the top 12. They never appear to be a team with any reasonable expectations for European football. However, since 2016 that drastically changed. Gianpaolo Gasperini started to create Madness in Bergamo, doing things that Atalanta fans would never have believed. He took a team that was considered very average in European football, creating a system that became one of the best attacking sides in Italian football history. The way he built this team was impeccable. The likes of Papu Gomez, the greatest player in club history, developed into one of the best players in the world at the time. Duvan Zapata joined Gasparini, who took him to a world level; Luis Muriel, Mario pasalic, Remo freuler, and Ruslan malinovskyi continually made innovative and low-cost deals, eventually cashing in on Rodger Ibanez, Gianluca Mancini, Bryan cristante, Franck Kessie and so many others. The institution that he built in Bergamo made it, at one point in time, one of the most antagonizing places to play. They made the Champions League three years running, the Europa League the year before, getting to two Cup finals; even though they lost both, there is just something special surrounding Gasparini and what he has done by taking Atalanta and turning them into a juggernaut the most dangerous attacking side throughout this journey they’ve always lacked the defensive requirements to win a league but at its peak was one of the most dangerous attacking teams in World football. They even beat Liverpool, masters of the trade during the Champions League, almost beat PSG got themselves to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, knocking out Valencia; this just has been a European team in Italy for the last five years. However, we are starting to see the decline of that team. They aren’t the same anymore; the Bergamo was such an anticlimactic place to play, very challenging as the supporters created such an atmosphere. That’s gone now. They lost duvan Zapata to injury early in the season when he was hitting his stride, but considering the versatility of attacking options they have had, they should have done better; it is clear that it’s the beginning of the end. They were positioned in the Champions League for a stretch of the season before Juventus stole it from them; not only did they not finish in the Champions League, they ended up finishing in 8th, which gives them no European football next season as they will be without Europe for the first time in five years. It was eventually going to implode as there were hints of dysfunction over the last two years. The treatment of duvan Zapata in the Champions League last season against Real Madrid, and the messy departure of Papu Gomez in terms of man-management, Gasparini handled it poorly. They bottled themselves in the Champions League groups and were lucky to make it to the quarterfinals of the Europa League. A wounded Bayer Leverkusen would have beaten them. For several years there have been conversations about whether or not the run is over; they persisted and continued to show progress this season; they showed their cracks and justified the claim that they’re no longer the same. This era of Atalanta deserves to be respected; it was one of the great teams of Italian football of this generation; they ended up empty-handed it’s over now. We all recognize that they’re never going to be a team that can challenge the league for at least the next couple of years. There were possibilities of winning the league during this era, but they never materialized. From the Pinnacle of what they could achieve in Europe at all, it has been a disheartening end, but it is the end. Atalanta will still be a team that can push themselves back into Europe, but they won’t be what they were during this era; they deserve our appreciation, but in the end, that run at the top has reached its limit.

Ivan Juric’s Torino Magic

Torino nearly escaped relegation last season. It took everything and then some for them to pull it off. However, there was a sense that they were only going to head back into a battle for their lives. Andrea Belotti remained at the club again but in all honesty, most believed that Torino was going to be in for a rough season. Their team, top to bottom, is incredibly average; it felt like they were playing a game with the relegation clock that would eventually run out. However, they made one move that changed everything for them. Ivan juric, over a three-year stretch in charge of Hellas Verona, positions them in the top 10 in back-to-back seasons. Each of the seasons that he spent there, he would lose critical pieces but still managed to keep them at the pace with the top 10. No one is necessarily saying that he is one of the best managers in the world, but for the types of jobs in the middle of the table and below, he is about the best you can come up with. Given the work he did at Hellas Verona, there was an assumption that a more prominent job was on the rise. However, he shocked the world after being previously linked with Lazio and Fiorentina; he was appointed as the Torino boss. Remember, this is still an incredibly average team with not much in it outside of maybe a few players. It didn’t make a difference. Ivan juric has been one of the most impressive managers of the season. The appointment itself, there was just this feeling that they were going to survive, but what they actually did was insane. Ivan juric is as close to a genius as you’re going to get. The Torino team that he has in front of them is average, and that’s being kind. Bremen was one of the best center backs in the League and significantly their best player. Andrea Belotti had a horrible season; he scored eight goals in the League. Showing exactly why He Still Remains there and no big clubs have come. He was able to do all this working for Cairo, an insane owner. Looking at the team he had at his disposal; I think it’d be hard-pressed to find anyone to get them into the top 10; he got one of the most average squads in the League into a top 10 position and was pushing Europe at times this season. Ivan juric was given the worst team than he had last season and got the best of it in a job like this is probably beneath him these types of teams; he can create an environment and atmosphere for success in the last three years; he has got Hellas Verona to finish 9th and 10th. Now he finished 10th with Torino without him in charge; they probably would have been relegated just showing the impact of what he has done this season.

David Nicola Saleritana’s great escape; Heated Fight at the bottom

The level of drama that took place at the bottom of the table was astounding. One of the most fascinating relegation fights in recent memory. Throughout the second half of the season, there were multiple scenarios of what could occur at the bottom of the table. It took until matchday 37 for someone to become mathematically relegated. It was a dog fight until the very end with so much extra interest than typical directed at the bottom of the table. Throughout this season, Venezia, Cagliari Salernitana, and Genoa had to cope with the possibility of relagation. During the first half of the season, it seemed rather straightforward. Genoa and Salernitana seem to be camping out at the bottom permanently. The possibility of either team surviving seemed second to none. However, the form of Cagliari and Venzcia put them in danger of facing the sword at the end of the season. It was a remarkable relegation fight that came down to the last night of the season. Many scenarios were possible on a matchday 38 with an incredible and constant amount of pressure on all of them. However, one team, in particular, grabbed the interest of not only Italian fans but also the neutrals. Salernitana was brutal the majority of the season. They went through a few different managers before landing on David Nicola, the man who orchestrated and engineered the greatest Escape in football history. Taking Crotone in 2016 from 13 points on Match Day 29 to surviving the season. That team spent 36 of 38 weeks at the bottom of the table; they got on an incredible run of form, beating Lazio in the last game of the season to survive. It is the greatest Escape in football history, So the appointment of him gave some belief within the team that maybe they could pull it off. I had serious doubts; with a few months left in the season, I said that they had a 0.01 chance of surviving. It would be the equivalent of escaping death. Everyone was so invested in each game. They made a trip to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to take on Roma. This was the most defining moment of the relegation battle. They were without a point in 13 games, against at the time A red-hot Roma without a defeat since January. Salernitana took the lead surprisingly. Held it for 80 minutes before Carles Perez and Chris Smalling scored twice in the last 10 minutes in what turned out to be a Roma victory. However, the main takeaway from the game was the fight and determination that Salernitana showed. Salernitana the next weekend beat Fiorentina as their season turned. They went unbeaten in 13 of their final 14 games. They took a point off Atalanta at the Bergamo. They beat Venzcia in a crucial collection of points and got the point off Cagliari; they continue to get results all the way up until the very end. A missed penalty against Empoli would have probably done enough to survive. However, a penalty miss made the final match of the season, meaning everything. Udinese rips them to shreds leaving everything up to Venzcia, already relegated to get at least a point again Cagliari in Sardinia. Despite their relegation, Venezia had earned a hard-fought point against Roma the week before. All things considered, fought and battled until the very end; even with nothing to play for, they held on into the final minute, coming up big with defensive plays in their box as they helped Salernitana do the impossible they escaped death in the second greatest Escape in football history orchestrated by the same man. They’re going to have issues next season staying up, but the surge they went on to end the season was nothing short of magical their survival this season was nothing short of a miracle. Genoa did their best to survive at the end of the season, beating Juventus, which gave them a puncher’s chance. Still, Musa Barrow’s goal for bologna sent them to Serie B. Venzcia, while going down showed incredible character, and I hope they come back soon. A genuinely remarkable battle to survive for all of these things as we have to say goodbye to Genoa and Cagliari, two that have been around a long time and are part of the foundation of Italian football. I fully believe both can come back right up, but it’s certainly a sad sight to see regardless. The relegation battle was just as good as the title this season; not something we see every year, but this one was extraordinary.

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