Serie A 2011-2012 Preview: Atalanta Face An Uphill Battle

SB Nation Soccer's Serie A previews kick off with Atalanta, not because La Dea finished lowest of the 2011-2012 clubs in Italy's top league, but because it's still uncertain whether they will even be allowed to compete in the league. 18 clubs, including Atalanta, were referred to the FIGC Disciplinary Committee for their alleged participation in match-fixing last season. The team's captain, Cristiano Doni, has been accused of violating Article 7 of the Code of Sporting Justice, with the prosecutor citing sporting fraud in relation to a match between Atalanta and Piacenza. Doni could face a three-year suspension, almost certainly ending the midfielder's career.

Hearings are set to start this week, and it is hoped that they will end by mid-August, in time to start the season. Speed during this time might help clubs that have yet to be implicated stay out of trouble (although don't mention that to Juventus supporters still fuming over Calciopoli).However, the likelihood of Atalanta being relegated back into Serie B (in which case, Sampdoria would resume their spot in Serie A) is extremely slim. It is likely the club will begin the season with a points deduction, creating a tougher struggle to stay up. 

Atalanta in 2010-2011

La Dea certainly do a wonderful job of yo-yoing: the club has been promoted and relegated six times since 1984. They were relegated again at the end of 2010, but bounced back up after just one season in Serie B, ready to establish themselves in the top league again (if, of course, they don't have to deal with a points deduction).

Goal of Last Season

I challenge you to find a particularly inspiring Atalanta goal. This one is chosen for its timing -- a goal in the 93 minute by Simone Tiribocchi to give La Dea all three points against Torino.

 

Summer Signings

Who's Out?

Gennaro Delvecchio, has, surprisingly, returned to Catania after his loan spell at Atalanta, despite being Italian. For the most part, though, players who have left remain in Serie B.

Who's In?

Midfielder Fabio Caserta returns from his loan spell at Cesena, but more interestingly, Argentine playmaker Ezequiel Schelotto is back from his time at (where else), Catania. Defender Stefano Lucchini joins from Sampdoria as well as Andrea Masiello from Bari.

Atalanta also just completed the signing of another Argentine playmaker, Maxi Moralez from Velez Sarsfield, who is as amazing as he is tiny-he's only 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in).

What to Expect from 2011-2012

I'd love to tell you it all depends on the amount of points deducted from Atalanta, but that's probably not the case - with the club's tendency to move up and down rapidly, it's hard to see the staying in Serie A next season. Then again, the likes of Lecce and Cesena are still knocking around the top flight, so the nerazzurri may have a chance

Key Players (2-3)

Your guess is as good as mine - I could pretend I know something more about specific players on Atalanta, but it would be a lie. Resolved: pay attention to Serie B this season.

Potential Breakout Star

It can't be anyone but Moralez, can it? El frasquito (please, please let "little flask" really be his nickname) made his full international debut in the spring, and in June  he helped guide Velez to the 2011 Clausura title. Moralez may not be attracting the sort of attention his compatriot Sergio Aguero is receiving, but for a just-promoted side, Atalanta did well to snatch the playmaker.  

Prediction

Relegated, particularly if a points deduction occurs.

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