Tuesday December 10 2019
Gasperini: 'Atalanta have a chance'

Gian Piero Gasperini admits Shakhtar Donetsk are favourites to qualify for the Champions League Round of 16, but Atalanta “can’t turn this chance down.”

It kicks off on Wednesday at 17.55 GMT in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

“It’s a very important game, especially for this first part of the season,” said the coach in his press conference.

“Clearly, we arrive here with great confidence, because after such a difficult start with three opening defeats, the fact we are still in with a chance of qualifying for the Round of 16 is a huge opportunity. We can’t turn that chance down.”

Duvan Zapata is still out of action, while Rafael Toloi is suspended and Josip Ilicic unavailable.

“These things happen, but the team has always done well even in the absence of some big players. We’ve grown considerably from the first leg and want to show how much we’ve developed.”

Gasp was asked whether Ruslan Malinovskyi would start, but he kept his options open and also praised Mario Pasalic.

“The fact that Ruslan is Ukrainian can certainly help, but he is doing well, as are many other players. We haven’t decided on the starting XI yet.”

Atalanta can only qualify for the Champions League Round of 16 if they beat Shakhtar Donetsk.

“I think both of us are only going for the victory. Clearly, Shakhtar are in a better situation than we are in this group. Since the last time we played them, Atalanta have put in some very strong performances.

“I also feel the 2-1 defeat to Shakhtar was excessive, because we had played well and were only caught out on the counter at the end. We hope to repay them for that result on their own turf.”

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