The two sides should ultimately be involved in the race for top 10 positions in the Serie A standings, meaning one of the two teams will be able to gain an early advantage at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia. Given that Atalanta and Hellas Verona are pretty evenly matched sides, a very close encounter is expected in Bergamo.
Virtually unchanged squad
Provided the club manage to ward off interest in star midfielder Giacomo ‘Jack’ Bonaventura, Atalanta will enter the new campaign with almost exactly the same squad as last season, which is definitely a good thing. This means that Orobici should be able to hit the ground early on rather than wait for new players to gel. Rolando Bianchi and Gianluca Biava are the only notable arrivals, with the former expected to play second fiddle to German Denis and the latter set for a starting berth despite turning 37. With Zappacosta, Benalouane and Drame the remaining players in the back four, Atalanta’s defence is likely to struggle when facing high-quality attackers, but their own front line is enough to make everyone worry. While German Denis and Maxi Moralez have long ago struck up an excellent understanding, Giacomo Bonaventura and Marcelo Estigarribia will continue to support them from the flanks, and it is important to note that all these players are available for the visit of Hellas Verona. The 2-0 Coppa Italia triumph over Pisa is enough to suggest Orobici are ready for the new season, but defeating exciting Gialloblu side will be no walk in the park.
There are no major selection worries for Stefano Colantuono, but talented playmaker Daniele Baselli misses out through injury.
Luca Toni cannot stop scoring
Hellas Verona were without a doubt the biggest surprise package of last season, ending the campaign in 10th position after coming very close to European qualification. The attacking duo of Luca Toni and Juan Manuel Iturbe was integral to team’s ambitions last season and while the veteran striker has already opened his account this term, the Argentine was sold to Roma. Iturbe is going to be misses this season, but new signings Lazaros Christodooulopoulos and Nene as well as Bosko Jankovic should manage to compensate. Rafa Marquez and Guillermo Rodriguez have been signed to improve the back line that conceded stunning 68 goals last term, but it remains to be seen whether the Mexican can pull his weight in a four-man defence. Verona started the new season with a 3-0 triumph over Cremonese in Coppa Italia, and while they can be trusted to continue the good scoring run, their new-look back line could find it hard to contain the likes of Denis, Moralez and Bonaventura. With that in mind, it appears the Gialloblu will have to score at least a couple goals if they want to get anything from Bergamo.
Apart from Jacopo Sala, who is out through an ankle injury, Andrea Mandorlini has no other selection problems at the moment.
Atalanta are considered slight favourites to claim maximum points and rightly so as they are almost unchanged from last season and possess plenty of quality up front. Meanwhile, Hellas Verona can be very dangerous on the travels as they are not afraid to attack their opponents away from home, and chances are we are going to see a high-scoring match.
Top pick: Both teams to score 1.97 (32/33) @ 888sport
Alternative pick 1: Over 2.5 goals 2.15 (23/20) @ Unibet
Alternative pick 2: Draw 3.40 (12/5) @ bet365