Atalanta suffered a slump at the end of the last Serie A season, but they are strong favorites to beat Sampdoria on Saturday in their first match of the new season.
Checking out the top sports betting sites (catch up with our online sportsbook reviews here) it looks like bettors and bookmakers alike are leaning heavily towards the visitors. The home team can be backed at as high as +322 to beat Atalanta, with the visitors rated at -112. Alternatively, if you think the draw is the best bet, you can bet at around +280.
Sampdoria had a terrible season in 2021–2022, and while fans will be delighted that city rival Genoa dropped into Serie B, realistically they know that the club faces another season of struggle. Once again the club was in the selling business, with many of their top players moving on this summer, which means Marco Giampaolo will once more be depending on the core of veterans at his disposal.
This season, Sampdoria’s attack will be led by older stars Francesco Caputo and Fabio Quagliarella, and Giampaolo will set up with a 4-1-4-1 system to protect his porous central defence.
The former president Massimo Ferrero’s arrest and their ongoing financial constraints continue to cast a shadow over the club, making it difficult for them to bolster their roster over the summer and another survival battle appears to be in store.
Atalanta had made such strides in recent years that its eighth-place finish last season was seen as a setback. However, the biggest worry wasn’t so much about how they finished as it was about how quickly they lost ground in the second half of the campaign. Up to the end of 2021, they had only lost three games, but in 2022 they lost eight times, including five of their final eight.
Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if Gian Piero Gasperini’s strategies were successful once more, at least initially as he sets his sights on the top four. Atalanta are difficult to stop when they are at their best and while the squad is fresh, they can once again make a strong start. This team’s ability to persevere through tough times and secure victories when they aren’t doing well, however, is the big unknown.
The issue of whether he has the players to support his ambitious style is also up for debate, and they perhaps rely too much on Duvan Zapata’s fitness. Still, Ademola Lookman and Ederson are strong recruits, and fans will be hoping their team can bounce back in 2022/23.
Manolo Gabbiadini is still unavailable for selection as he is about a month away from being match fit. His experience will be missed, but Caputo is available to lead the forwards and should line up alongside the recent acquisition of Abdelhamid Sabiri.
The team news is more concerning for Atlanta. Merih Demiral has only just come back to training after his knee injury, while Davide Zappacosta is also sidelined and won’t be back until early September, and Marco Carnesecchi has a shoulder problem. Another long-term absentee is defender Jose Luis Palomino, who is awaiting the results of an investigation into a failed drug test he took on his preseason tour. Gasperini is likely to give both Jeremie Boga and Ederson their club debuts here.
Sampdoria do at least go into this match in decent form, despite having been unable to make many noteworthy signings. Although they won only one out of three in their preseason, they managed to beat Reggina 1-0 in the First Round of the Coppa Italia last weekend and have been finding the net regularly.
In fact, they might expect to be in with a chance of earning a point from this match if the visitors were in the same form as at the end of last season. Unfortunately for Sampdoria, Atalanta seem to be back to their best after a few weeks off. They only gave up three goals during the preseason, scoring 17 in their four warm-up games.
For a Sampdoria team that was infamously flimsy in defense last season, that should be the reason for concern, as should Atalanta’s strong record in this fixture. Last year, La Dea won both meetings and have won four out of their last six, a reflection of the two clubs’ contrasting fortunes.
The opening weekend can produce shocks, but although I expect Sampdoria to defend with some energy, Atalanta’s customary attacking intensity should prove to be too strong. There is likely to be plenty of entertainment in this game, but an Atlanta win is the best betting pick.