Serie A 2013-14 season previews: Safety first for unchanged Atalanta

Tullio M. Puglia

Atalanta will aim to consolidate their Serie A status for another year, using the same squad of players that saw them to a 15th place finish last season.

Stefano Colantuono leads Atalanta into a third consecutive Serie A season, with most of his prized assets still intact....for now. The 50-year-old tactician will hope to still be able to call upon last season's 15 goal top scorer German Denis and promising midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura when the Orobici begin their Serie A campaign. Results from pre-season have so far been mixed. The Nerazzurri have hammered a team of out of contract Brazilians 6-0 and upset Udinese 5-2 in the Trofeo Bortolotti. On the other end of the scale, they've also slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Lega Pro side Pergolettese and lost 3-2 against Chievo Verona.

Last Season

The Boys from Bergamo quietly went about their Serie A business last term. The team seemed to do enough to bypass the relegation fight and remain inconspicuous around the mid-table area. Even though the team racked up the most yellow cards (111) they were never perilously close to being sucked into the drop zone.

Who's Gone?

Federico Peluso - The defender has joined Juventus on a permanent deal after spending the second half of last season on loan at the Bianconeri. The 29-year-old reportedly fetched a fee of around 4.8 million.

Manolo Gabbiadini - The Italian U21 winger starred on loan at Bologna last season, netting six goals in 30 appearances. Was co-owned by Juventus and Atalanta, but Juve paid €5.5million to buy out Atalanta's half, then sold it on to Sampdoria. Gabbiadini will play his football for the Blucerchiati this season.

Who's In?

Marko Livaja - Atalanta have retained the playing rights of the Croatian U21 international for another season, as a result of their co-ownership deal with Inter Milan. The striker first arrived in Bergamo during the January transfer window and is as talented as he is hotheaded. Scored a quickfire brace against AS Roma, but spent long periods out of the side for poor discipline and allegedly punching teammate Ivan Radovanovic in training. Many have made comparisons to Antonio Cassano and Colantuono has stepped in to try and curb the youngster's fiery temper.

Mario Yepes - The veteran Colombian defender arrives on a free transfer from AC Milan. With a World Cup coming up, the 37-year-old is likely to find playing time easier to come by in Bergamo as opposed to the San Siro. Has previous Serie A experience with Chievo.

Luca Cigarini - The 27-year-old midfielder has spent the past two seasons on loan to Atalanta. They've bought 50% of his contract from Napoli and retain his playing services.

Keep An Eye On

Giacomo Bonaventura - The youngster has been instrumental in Atalanta's recent stability. The 23-year-old has been in Bergamo for six years and scored seven goals in 36 Serie A appearances last season. His performances and consistency earned him a maiden call up to the national setup at the end of last season and he made his debut against San Marino. Juventus and AC Milan have declared their interest, but Bonaventura has two years left to run on his existing deal and the Atalanta hierarchy have re-affirmed their desire to keep him. Thus far, the player himself seems happy to stay and has had a 10 million price tag placed on his head.

Predicted Finish

Atalanta finished eight points clear of the relegation places in 15th place last season. The previous year, they finished three places higher, despite starting with a six point deduction. A happy medium this season will be more than acceptable for the Orobici. Colantuono has gone on record to say survival is the primary target, but on paper the squad seems more capable than that. A flirt with mid-table is a possibility, otherwise look for Atalanta to finish just outside the top ten.

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