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Europa League Scouting Report: Atalanta BC

Toffees will head to Italy for first game of Europa League group stages

SSC Napoli v Atalanta BC - Serie A Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

At this point, it’s fairly well established that Everton were drawn into the Europa League "group of death". The trip to Cyprus could be tricky, while Lyon boast an attack that could batter many teams in England.

Atalanta are harder to evaluate than the French side. The Oribici enjoyed a surprise fourth place finish last season, which brings them into European competition for the first time in 26 years.

Unfortunately, this summer happened. Atalanta sold arguably their two best players - midfielder Franck Kessie to AC Milan, and do-it-all right back Andrea Conti, also to AC Milan.

Manager Gian Piero Gasperini was able to bring in defensive midfielder Marten de Roon from Middlesbrough and attacker Josip Ilicic from league rivals Fiorentina, but it might not be enough - Atalanta lost their Serie A home opener 0-1 to AS Roma, then lost away at Napoli, 3-1. They finally recorded their first win of the campaign this last weekend, beating fellow strugglers Sassuolo.

The Blues do have that in common with their hosts on Thursday, having played three title challengers in their first four weeks of the season while Atalanta have faced two contenders already.

Atalanta do have several talented youngsters on loan from Juventus in Ricardo Orsolini and Mattia Caldara, but this is a side that Everton should be able to brush aside. Defender Caldara may provide a stout challenge for the Blues’ less than stellar strike force, but in midfield, Ronald Koeman’s Toffees will be able to operate freely.

Atalanta BC v US Sassuolo - Serie A
Atalanta BC players celebrate victory over Sassuolo
Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

Blues fans should enjoy their trip to Lombardy in Italy - it’s no Hajduk Split, thankfully - and Everton should reward their travels with three points.

There is talent in Atalanta’s side, but Everton are stronger, deeper, and faster. Focused performances will be enough to come out on top.