Gian Piero Gasperini is confident Atalanta will qualify if they beat Shakhtar Donetsk but admits the Champions League has “affected” their form in Serie A.
The Dea can still reach the last 16 of the prestigious tournament, but their fate is not only in their hands.
Atalanta need to beat Shakhtar and hope Dinamo fail to claim all three points against an already-qualified Manchester City.
“Our commitment in the Champions League has affected the League somewhat,” Gasperini told Radio Anch’io Sport. “But we are in the shape we were hoping to be in.
“We know how difficult the match against Shakhtar will be. However, there are chances to stay in Europe and in the Champions League. We are hoping to get the job done.
“It will also depend on the City result. I am convinced we will qualify if we win the match.”
The Dea lost 2-1 to the Ukrainians at San Siro in their first meeting, but they have since drawn with City and beaten Dinamo Zagreb.
“The toughest defeat to swallow was the one against Shakhtar,” added the coach. “That’s the game that has compromised our journey in the Champions League.”
The 61-year-old then underlined the club was in the middle of a steep learning curve and that he would love for them to keep gaining necessary experience in Europe.
“We hope to get more opportunities to play in the Champions League. We are even happy to continue in the Europa League. I am convinced that Europe does nothing but enrichen you.
“The Champions League is a great experience, but we have suffered from its great impact, especially our first game in September.
“We played friendlies in England to prepare for it, but our season starts later.”
Before the decisive game in Europe, Atalanta must prepare to face Hellas Verona in Serie A this Saturday. They are currently sixth in the League, three points behind Roma in fourth.
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