Gian Piero Gasperini wants Atalanta to “secure qualification” for the next round of the Europa League in tomorrow’s trip to Apollon Limassol.
It kicks off on Thursday at 18:00 GMT and the Bergamo boys are top of their group with seven points, followed by Lyon on five and Apollon two.
“It’s a European game with qualification up for grabs, so it’s a very important night for us and totally different to our Serie A campaign,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
Captain Papu Gomez is out of action with a foot injury and hasn’t even made the journey to Cyprus.
“Missing Gomez is a big problem, but it’s one we’ve been dealing with for a few weeks, so we’ll try to do as best we can.”
The squad was put in to a training retreat after their surprise 2-1 Serie A defeat to Udinese on Sunday.
“We’ve been playing so much lately that we haven’t had many training sessions and some situations kept repeating themselves. I therefore thought it was important to have some extra training sessions not for a physical reason, but because we felt the need to get some of the organisation back on track.
“We put together three consecutive victories and then lost on Sunday, so it’s not as if our form is that negative. Tomorrow we have the first match-ball to secure qualification – it’s not the only one, just the first – but we are here to play our game.”
Atalanta beat Apollon Limassol 3-1 in Bergamo last time out, the first defeat the Cypriots experienced in the Europa League this season.
“We did well against Apollon last time, it will be different tomorrow on their own turf, but we hope to get qualification sorted out tomorrow.
“I think we have to interpret the game over the 90 minutes against an opponent we respect, and we saw in Bergamo they equalised the moment they had the chance.
“However, that doesn’t mean we won’t play to our best and take the game to them. This is the last chance saloon for Apollon, we know that, and undoubtedly we’re in a better position. It’s true there might be a better draw if you win the group, but there’s no guarantee of that. It’s more important to qualify full stop.
“Andreas Cornelius needs to be evaluated, but otherwise all the others who made the trip are available.”
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