Friday November 29 2019
Gasp: 'Derby match a one-off'

Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini has stressed that “League placing doesn’t matter”  in derbies ahead of taking on local rivals Brescia.

Tomorrow marks the first time Atalanta and Brescia face off in Serie A since 2004.

La Dea are coming off their first-ever victory in the Champions League and sit sixth in the Serie A table, whereas the visitors are rock bottom and have had to deal with issues off the field.

“The derby is a different game to the others. League placing doesn’t matter in a game like this,” Gasperini said at a press conference.

“It’s a game in its own right. You have to isolate yourself a little from all the outside noise. We will be as focused as possible.”

Duvan Zapata remains out since suffering a thigh injury while on international duty for Colombia last month...

“Apart from [Duvan] Zapata, we have {Rafael] Toloi who is out with a suspension. [Simon] Kjaer is also out with fatigue, but [Luis] Muriel is fine.”

Papu Gomez was impressive in the 2-0 win against Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night, and the coach wished he had worked with the Argentine earlier in his career.

“Papu [Gomez] is a universal player, he is in great condition both physically and mentally.

“He deserves another career. It’s a shame not to have met him earlier. He knows how to play football.”

Derbies between Brescia and Atalanta over the years have been mired by fan trouble, but Gasperini hopes those days are over.

“There must be no violence, we must be mature and play the derby without violence and any negative implications like years ago.

“We must all make attempts to bring back the fans and not lose them again. In three years here I have never seen any violence, at home or on the road.

“A derby like this should be celebrated as a party, fans no longer have the desire to clash like before. It’s a shame there hasn’t been a derby for 15 years.”

Finally, the 61-year-old was asked about Mario Balotelli, who has again been in the headlines recently.

“I don’t follow everything, but at the start of the year it seemed a good fit for him, Brescia and the national team.

“He’s always had great quality, but sometimes he’s not been able to show it or he’s never managed to get the best out of himself.”

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