Sunday August 20 2017
Papu: 'Atalanta don't fear Roma'

Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez said Atalanta will face Roma “without fear” this evening, but want-away Leonardo Spinazzola should be released.

It kicks off at 17.00 UK time (16.00 GMT), click here for a match preview.

“It is very important that we rack up points straight away. Roma are a work in progress, because they changed Coach and sold Mohamed Salah and Antonio Rudiger, but they are still at the top of Italian football,” Gomez told L’Eco di Bergamo newspaper.

“We will face them without fear, but great respect. We might be weaker than last season in terms of the starting XI, but we’ve got more strength in depth.”

Spinazzola will not be taking part, as he is boycotting training to force a transfer to Juventus.

“As things stand, I’d prefer that he just leave. If he’s not happy here, then he is of no use to us. I had opportunities to go this summer, such as Roberto Mancini’s Zenit and Lazio, but I chose to remain in Bergamo and I’m glad I did.

“I think that the Europa League will be less difficult than people think. I consider Serie A to be far tougher, as in Europe I see many teams on our level.

“Atalanta gave me a top-level contract, but I above all decided to stay for the club, the Coach and everything around us. I realise a contract like that holds a lot of responsibility, so I must keep Atalanta where they belong with goals, assists, helping the younger players to grow – basically being a captain.”

The Argentine became a social media sensation last season by wearing a different captain’s armband every week, designed by his wife, but we won’t get that now.

“The club informed me that the Lega Serie A ruled only traditional armbands will be allowed. No more personalised versions. No comment.”

Atalanta finished fourth in Serie A last term and it earned Papu a call-up to the Argentina squad.

“I’d love to play at the World Cup, that is an absolute dream. There’s a lot of competition, but I can only get there by repeating last season.”

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