Saturday February 16 2019
Gomez: 'Atalanta-Milan birthday gift'

Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez can’t wait to lead Atalanta out against Milan in tonight’s head-to-head for fourth place and aims to break a club record.

It kicks off at 19.30 GMT, click here for a match preview.

The Argentine turned 31 yesterday and is hoping for a better present than last year.

“It seems we always have a big game around my birthday. Last year it was Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League, but I hope for a better result against Milan so I can celebrate with a win,” he told the official Atalanta website.

“I expect a wonderful match and I am sure both teams will give it their all to get the points. Atalanta had some fantastic games against Milan, as I remember three years ago Mauricio Pinilla scored with an overhead kick and I got the winner in the final minutes. We also had important draws at San Siro, such as the 1-1 that gave us Europa League qualification.

“The last few years have always seen important clashes with Milan and this one will be no different.”

There is only one point separating fourth-placed Milan from Atalanta going into this weekend.

“Whatever happens in this game, there are still 15 rounds to go and we don’t know where we’ll end up. Obviously, we want to stay as far up the table as possible and try to break away from Sampdoria, Torino and Fiorentina,” continued Gomez.

“I don’t know if there’s a secret to Atalanta’s success. The truth is this team works so hard with the Coach and staff, we have a winning mentality and try to achieve our targets.

“We’ve got such a good rapport within the squad that we arrive at training happy to start the day. Even if every year someone inevitably moves on, the spine of the group remains the same. I’ve been here for five years, then there are players like Andrea Masiello, Rafael Toloi, Remo Freuler and Marten de Roon. We try to help the younger elements and the team is always united.”

Papu has moved position to be more of a trequartista this season and said it’s his role to set the example.

“I am convinced that if I track back to win the ball, a teammate might see that and think: ‘If Papu does it, and he’s a forward, then I can do it too.’ That is the mentality we need within the group.

“I am happy with the new position, because I feel that I can help the team both defensively and in attack. Playing like this, Duvan Zapata and Josip Ilicic can also play where they are happiest, so we open up lots of spaces and score many goals.

“We’ve set so many Atalanta records in recent years, but not yet for goals scored in a single Serie A season, so I think this time we can do it. The club record of 66 goals was set in 1950 and we’ve already got 50 under our belts.

“We know that if Atalanta are to do well, we need to score lots of goals. That way even if we do concede, we’re aware that we can do damage when we go forward and that gives us confidence.”

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