Having put our names in history by becoming World Champions for the first time in Atalanta’s history last time out, we moved into 2026 in second place in Serie A and looking ahead to the knockout stages of the Champions Cup.
The New Year got off to a bad start as we lost second striker Milovan Timotijevic to damaged ligaments, which would see him miss the remainder of the season. To fill the attacking void we promoted 17-year-old striker Dimba and brought in another exciting talent in Alex Dongmo for £10 million from Mainz.
2026 began with more silverware, as we wrapped up a treble by winning the Italian Super Cup for a second consecutive year – beating AC Milan on penalties. And that was the catalyst for a frankly ridiculous run of form.
Four consecutive league wins without conceding followed, including a 6-0 win over Cagliari then a 5-0 win over Empoli, thanks to a Diego Roncaglio hat-trick. We didn’t lose another Serie A match until a visit to AC Milan on the last day of the season – when a third straight title had already been secured.
The league form wasn’t quite as good as the previous season, as we drew nine matches and lost twice, but it was more than good enough to see off the challenge of Inter – with 14 points less than our tally of the previous campaign.
That league form was in amongst a fabulous run of 36 matches undefeated in all competitions. That included the Champions Cup, in which we once again defeated Hertha BSC with ease – having defeated them in the European Super Cup earlier in the season – this time with a 5-1 aggregate win.
That set up another clash with Real Madrid in the quarter-final. We once again rose to the challenge, pulling off an impressive 3-1 win at Santiago Bernabeu, through a Cosimo Marco Da Graca brace, then backed it up with a 2-0 win at home.
Next up was Arsenal in the semi-finals, as we looked to secure a second straight Champions Cup. And that was confirmed with a fantastic 4-0 victory in the home leg, with goals from exciting young midfielder Timmi Uldbjerg, winger Luis Collazos, Antonio Marin and Diego Roncaglio. A 1-1 draw in the away leg, with Uldbjerg again on the scoresheet, saw us once again heading to the Final.
Before that, we had a first-ever Italian Cup Final to play – which was the only trophy we had yet to win as Atalanta, which sounds ridiculous to say. We’d knocked out AS Roma and Milan en route to the final, and our reward was a clash with Inter, our nearest challengers to the Serie A title.
It was, unsurprisingly, a very tight affair, but we bossed most of it and dominated the chances in the match. However, we struggled to break through Inter’s defences. Right-back Antonio Carlos scored a penalty on the brink of half-time, which was his first goal of the season incidentally, and we held on in the second half to secure a famous victory.
This win not only secured a quintuple, it also ensured we had completed the clean sweep of available silverware – having won Serie A, the Italian Super Cup, the Italian Cup, the European Super Cup, the Euro Cup, the Champions Cup and the Club World Cup.
Now attentions were firmly turned to another Champions Cup Final, which is why we lost our unbeaten run on the final day – given I picked an entire team of backup players and youngsters, including our youngest ever player in 15 years and 296 days old Cristian Pavan.
The Final saw us once again go up against English opposition. Having defeated Liverpool 12 months ago, this time we were taking on the riches of Manchester City – who’d spent £240 million on three players this season and boasted Kylian Mbappe, Leon Bailey, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Moise Kean and extremely talented attacking midfield regen Mauricio Amador in their starting line-up.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about this Atalanta team, it’s that they do not respect nor care about reputations. Our Final performance was probably the greatest performance I’ve ever seen in my time playing Football Manager.
We got off to a great start as Da Graca scored after seven minutes, then doubled our lead just before the half hour mark. I expected a City onslaught in response but it didn’t materialise, indeed we stretched our lead to 3-0 thanks to an own goal by Alvaro Odriozola. They did eventually grab a goal through a superb free-kick by Amador on the verge of half-time.
But then a magnificent performance was topped off by a ridiculously good goal by Antonio Marin. We kicked off the second half, played a few passes, then Marin ran from the halfway line and spanked it into the top corner from 25 yards inside 30 seconds of the half. It was an unreal goal that killed the game as a contest and, unbelievably, meant Atalanta were Champions of Europe for the second consecutive season.
That meant we’d wrapped up what I’m pretty sure is unprecedented levels of dominance, securing an “unbelievable sextuple.” And this success saw Atalanta rise to become the most reputable club in the world – madness!
One of the most exciting things about this season from a player point of view was the wonderful form of young midfielder Timmi Ulbjerg. The Denmark international has suddenly rocketed to become one of the best players in the world, breaking Marin’s assists record and stealing the Croatian’s Serie A Player of the Year award off him. This is a player we signed for just £2.5 million from FC Kobernhavn in 2021 and is now worth £67 million.
Our all-time record league goalscorer Da Graca finished the season with another club record, scoring 40 goals in all competitions – with his 12 in the Champions Cup seeing him finish as the top scorer and winning him the competition’s best striker award.
Next time, we’ll look to do the impossible – defend a sextuplet. However, a big concern is that Marin, now in the final year of his contract, is unwilling to discuss a new contract at the club. That makes me wonder whether my time at Atalanta is up, question how much more I can achieve, and debate whether I should leave in search of fresh challenges.
However, I have developed a real love for Atalanta, so staying with the Bergamo club to prolong the exciting achievements may be the only option.