Atalanta vs AS Roma – 3 key battles to watch out for | Serie A 2021-22 – Sportskeeda

Atalanta and AS Roma will square off in an enticing Serie A clash on Saturday. Gli Orobici are currently on a roll in Serie A, having won their last six games in a row and unbeaten in their last ten.

After languishing in tenth in the league table after matchday three, Gian Piero Gasperini’s troops are now up to third. They are ahead of Napoli, who seemed unstoppable early on.

AS Roma aren’t far behind, sitting in sixth place with 28 points. They are ahead of Juventus on goal difference. The Giallorossi recovered from back-to-back losses against Bologna and Inter Milan by beating Spezia 2-0 in their last game.

Another victory would be a huge boost to their top-four hopes, but the capital club hasn’t beaten Atalanta in their last seven top-flight games. Ahead of the mouth-watering kick-off, here’s a look at three key battles that could shape the outcome of the game:

#3 Mario Pasalic (Atalanta) vs Jordan Veretout (AS Roma)

Pasalic might be Serie A's best midfielder right now.“>
Pasalic might be Serie A’s best midfielder right now.

Mario Pasalic is having a fine campaign. With seven goals and five assists, he’s the most dangerous player in Atalanta’s squad after Duvan Zapata.

He offers tremendous energy, invention, urgency, flair and industry from both attacking and midfield positions like few other players do. The Croatian is also the only player in Serie A this season to have registered both a hat-trick of assists and goals.

Mario Pasalic, Atalanta 2021-2022, Attacking Midfield & Winger Template Radar

View image on Twitter“>

Mario Pasalic, Atalanta 2021-2022, Attacking Midfield & Winger Template Radar

Roma will have to keep a watchful eye on Pasalic. The Herculean task of keeping him in check will likely fall on Jordan Veretout. The Frenchman has been a huge attacking threat for Roma, contributing seven goals. He has particularly stood out for his ball recovery and timely interceptions, though.

He’ll need to produce more of the same on Saturday to limit Pasalic’s influence in the game.

#2 Tammy Abraham (AS Roma) vs Merih Demiral (Atalanta)

Abraham has been a key addition to Roma.“>
Abraham has been a key addition to Roma.

Consistency is still missing from his game, but Tammy Abraham hasn’t disappointed since joining Roma. He has registered ten goals and three assists in 23 games across competitions for his new club.

Most of his strikes have come in Europe (six in the Conference League); his four other goals have come in Serie A. Manager Jose Mourinho would trust Abraham to lead the Roma line due to a lack of quality options.

Tammy Abraham has now scored 100 senior club goals ⚽️

He’s only 24 👏

Tammy Abraham has now scored 100 senior club goals ⚽️He’s only 24 👏

The former Chelsea target man will come up against Merih Demiral, who has been a revelation this season. He has brought incredible solidity and athleticism to Atalanta’s defence since arriving from Juventus.

The Turkish international has averaged 3.1 clearances per game in the league, a testament to his game-reading acumen. He is strong in the air too, winning 3.8 aerial duels on average.

#1 Duvan Zapata (Atalanta) vs Chris Smalling (AS Roma)

Atalanta's unstoppable force will meet Roma's immovable object.“>
Atalanta’s unstoppable force will meet Roma’s immovable object.

Duvan Zapata is among the most underrated strikers in Europe’s top five leagues. He has scored 65 league goals since joining Atalanta in 2018, including nine this campaign.

A deadly striker with predatory instincts and devastating finishing skills, the Colombian is also an exceptional creator. He has assisted 14 times since the start of last season.

For context, that’s the most in the division after only Hakan Calhanoglu (16) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (15). He has also excelled in the Champions League, where he became the first Atalanta player to score in three consecutive games.

Strikers don’t get any deadlier than Zapata, so Chris Smalling will know what he’s up against.

The former Manchester United defender also has his task cut out as he’s only returning from an injury. Smalling’s solid displays in the 2019-20 season convinced the Giallorossi to sign him permanently, but injuries have blighted his time on the field.

Smalling has looked promising whenever he has been on the pitch this season. He has executed an intelligent style of defending with an emphasis on positional sense and awareness.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Englishman deals with the rampant Zapata in Serie A on Sunday.

Edited by Bhargav

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