Hans Hateboer confirms Atalanta and Ajax “share the same principles of football,” while today’s showdown with Lazio is “decisive for both teams.”
It kicks off at 14.00 UK time (13.00 GMT).
“This is going to be a decisive game for both teams, but if we win, it’d be a huge step forward for Europe,” the wing-back told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Lazio are a competitive side, even though they are missing Stefan Radu, Senad Lulic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. They’re particularly strong in attack and have a similar mentality to ours, but we are feeling confident.”
These clubs will face off again at the Olimpico on May 15 for the Coppa Italia Final.
“It’s a different match, but also an opportunity to study what goes well and, above all, what doesn’t work. I couldn’t choose between Champions League qualification and winning the Coppa Italia. We’re in the running, so why not go for both?
“We don’t feel tired, our legs and minds are racing and we don’t intend to stop. I too have improved, above all working hard on my defensive movements, but can do much more.”
Atalanta have been compared to Champions League semi-finalists Ajax, so who better to judge than Dutch international Hateboer?
“It’s true, we both play with one-on-one situations all over the pitch. Ajax have more quality, just look at what they’re doing in Europe, but we share the same principles of football.
“I was just talking to Matthijs de Ligt about that when we were on international duty. I am not surprised by their results.
“Gian Piero Gasperini is a great Coach and what he’s done with Atalanta is incredible.”
Another Netherlands player in the Atalanta side is Marten de Roon, who had a brief spell at Middlesbrough before returning to Bergamo.
“He’s really happy here, that’s why he left Middlesbrough in order to return. How can you compare a struggle to avoid relegation with challenging for the Champions League? Plus Bergamo is such a beautiful city.
“We haven’t made any plans yet for how to celebrate if we finish fourth or win the Coppa Italia, but if needed, they could ask my teammates and I for some suggestions…”