Saturday December 21 2019
Gasp: 'Atalanta grow in 2020'

Gian Piero Gasperini wants Atalanta to pour all their Champions League enthusiasm on to Serie A, starting from Milan. “We can keep building in 2020.”

It kicks off on Sunday at 11.30 GMT, click here for a match preview.

Compared to last week’s defeat to Bologna, La Dea have Papu Gomez and Josip Ilicic back in the squad.

“Milan remain one of the biggest clubs in Italy and have a quality squad at their disposal,” assured Gasperini in his press conference.

“We are in a phase of the season where we need to pick up points and can fully focus our energy, seeing as there are no other Champions League fixtures. We lost a game to Bologna that we shouldn’t have done, but must now try to make up for lost time.

“Reaching the last 16 of the Champions League generated a lot of enthusiasm, but we need to finish in the top four of Serie A if we are to be back in that tournament next season – unless of course we win the Champions League!

“Whatever happens, 2019 remains an extraordinary year for all the performances, results and the appreciation we received. It was not a fluke, as I feel Atalanta can be competitive in 2020 too and keep building on these foundations.

“The club has planned for the future and the international experience has benefited everyone. In that sense, with all due humility, we can have the ambition of continuing to challenge for certain objectives. What we can ask of 2020 is no more long-term injuries like the one Duvan Zapata is still dealing with.”

Atalanta’s growth is even more remarkable considering they sold key players every season, three of them to Milan.

“Franck Kessie, Mattia Caldara and Andrea Conti were all here when this Atalanta era really began. I am happy that Conti is getting back to full fitness, while Kessie is always strong and hope Caldara can fully recover soon too. It’s a very important game tomorrow, so we’ll say hello, but then go our separate ways.”

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