Saturday February 15 2020
Gasperini: 'Can't plan that goal!'

Gian Piero Gasperini explained his tactical adjustments to turn Roma around, but Mario Pasalic scoring 19 seconds after his substitution is “something you cannot plan!”

La Dea have earned 18 out of their total 45 points in Serie A this season through comeback situations and are now six points clear of Roma in fourth place.

It is technically seven points, because they have a superior head-to-head record, having won 2-0 at the Olimpico and 2-1 in Bergamo.

Gasperini’s substitutions proved decisive, because Mario Pasalic scored 19 seconds after coming off the bench.

“We have a certain balance and had some difficulties in the first half creating dangerous situations, so there are moments when we can move Gomez around into a more attacking role,” the coach told DAZN.

“If you score after 19 seconds, then clearly you can’t plan that! The important thing was to rediscover our balance in the middle of the pitch.”

Atalanta have also scored 12 goals with players who came off the bench this season, but Gasperini gave the credit to the crowd.

“What we are experiencing with our fans is frankly rare in Italy, this level of passion. We hope to see it again on Wednesday with Valencia, where the whole city is practically travelling to Milan for the Champions League game.

“Having that kind of support, even when we are trailing, it puts extra fuel in the tank. Clearly, we’ve gained the kind of experience now to know we can get back into the Champions League. We can fight it out with anyone.

“Roma aren’t out of it yet, as they are very strong especially on home turf, but we have strong belief that we can finish ahead of them.”

Pasalic was introduced for Duvan Zapata, moving Papu Gomez into a more advanced role with Josip Ilicic.

“We had Pasalic and Malinovskyi on the bench, in attack only Muriel, whereas other teams probably have more options available to them than we do.

“Therefore, we have to make the most of our midfielders to score goals. We can use the versatility of Papu, the excellent scoring record of Ilicic, at times use them out wide, others more central and it means we can score a lot of goals without the strikers.

“We missed Duvan Zapata for three months, so it gave us the opportunity to experiment with other solutions and it gives the opposition defence few reference points.

“We could’ve done better in the first half, as we didn’t vary the play enough to get around their pressing, but also didn’t have our best game on a technical level.

“Once we sped up the passing and moved Papu over to the left, that created more spaces and improved the quality of our football.”

Atalanta face Valencia on Wednesday evening at San Siro in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16.

“I watched a few of their games, especially against Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. It’s a tough test. The Mestalla was a cauldron in the second half and pushed them on to a comeback.

“This will not be easy, Valencia have a lot of quality, but then it’s exciting. We are going to San Siro with 40,000 people, we have to enjoy it!”

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