Saturday September 28 2019
Gasperini still critical of Atalanta

Gian Piero Gasperini still wasn’t happy after Atalanta’s 4-1 win away to Sassuolo and warned they need to be at their best in the Champions League.

They got the job done in the opening 35 minutes with a Papu Gomez brace, Robin Gosens and Duvan Zapata at the Mapei Stadium.

“If we always played 30 minutes of that level, it’d be perfect! But this team is doing well and when it plays like that, it creates many scoring opportunities,” the Coach told DAZN.

“We wanted to control the second half, preserving energy and thinking about Tuesday’s match, but the best way to do that is to keep the ball.

“Instead, we were too static, we gave it away cheaply and had to chase after the ball instead. It’s a pity, as it could’ve been a really great performance.

“I get angry even when we’re 4-0 up if we are not doing the right things. After such an excellent first half, it’s not that we were going to push just as hard, but we took our foot off the gas too much and gave the ball away too much.

“Football is strange, anything can happen and we must learn to have a middle ground between magnificent and sluggish.”

Gasperini also seems to be embracing squad rotation, which he had struggled with last season.

“I have a strong skeleton of this team, but this season we have expanded the list of possible starters and that allows us to balance out the energy with 16-17 players who can rotate for the three competitions. Any more and it’d be difficult to deal with them all.”

Papu Gomez scored two goals by running from deep, including one move he started near the centre-circle.

“He already had this position last season, but there are times when he alternates with Ilicic in a more advanced role. He can run the game from a deeper position and run into space.”

Atalanta were beaten 4-0 by Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League opener, but seem to have found their feet now and host Shakhtar Donetsk at San Siro on Tuesday.

“Undoubtedly, we improved after Zagreb and had a series of good performances. We didn’t enjoy the Champions League debut and clearly we want to prove what we can do in that tournament too, but we need the best Atalanta to make a good impression there.”

No Serie A side has picked up as many points as Atalanta in the calendar year 2019, surpassing Juventus, Napoli and Inter.

“What these lads have done in 2019, but also in the years before, is extraordinary. Nobody expected us to be in this position, but we earned our points and can hopefully start getting even more once we return to our home stadium, as we’re missing it a little bit now.”

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