Atalanta hosts Olympiacos Piraeus in the first leg of the Europa League 1/16 finals. The match will be played on Thursday, February 17th at Gewiss Stadium (Bergamo)
Atalanta failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in their history of performances in the Champions League. And now Gasperini’s men will play in the Europa League playoffs for the first time in their history. If they manage to show their best football, they will certainly compete for the Cup. But at the moment, the condition of the Black and Blues leaves much to be desired. In the last four matches in all tournaments, they did not gain a single victory: two draws and two defeats. As a result, Atalanta lost a place in the top four of the Serie A standings and was eliminated from the Italian Cup in the quarterfinal stage. As for overall performances in the Europa League, Atalanta has not lost at home yet. In seven matches, the team gained four victories and three draws. Four of those games ended with ‘Both teams to score — no.’
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Olympiacos Piraeus is a more experienced team by Europa League standards. For example, last season the Red-Whites reached the 1/8 finals, where they lost to eminent Arsenal. In the current draw, the Legends took 2nd place in the group with Fenerbahce, Antwerp, and Eintracht Frankfurt. They earned nine points in six matches, giving first place to the Germans. The last ten away Europa League matches of Olympiacos ended as follows: three victories, one draw, and six defeats. It is noteworthy that the Red-Whites only once scored more than two goals against their opponents. Now the men of Pedro Martins are in good shape. In the last five matches in all tournaments, not a single defeat was recorded (four wins and one draw).
Atalanta and Olympiacos Piraeus will cross paths for the first time in their history. I would like to note that nine of the previous 11 away games of Olympiacos in the Europa League ended with Under 2.5 goals scored. Despite Atalanta’s poor form, I’m still convinced that this team is stronger. I think that Gasperini’s men will prove it in the upcoming game. Moreover, they will play in front of their native supporters. And do not forget that the Greeks are historically strong in the home arena, but they regularly lose on foreign pitches (especially in European competitions). I expect the Black and Blues to go forward, as they should try to make amends for their recent failures. But the visitors look quite good in counterattacks, so we are likely to see goals in both nets.