Robin Gosens reveals the secret to Atalanta’s success in their intensive training methods and the Champions League advantage over PSG. ‘They are not a team unit.’
The quarter-final kicks off in Lisbon on Wednesday at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT), opening the new format Final Eight tournament set entirely in Portugal.
“We have a double advantage in this tie,” Gosens told La Gazzetta dello Sport magazine Sportweek.
“The first is match fitness, because in Italy the season resumed and came to a conclusion, whereas that was not the case in France. Apart from the two Cup Finals, they haven’t played in four or five months.
“The second advantage is that we move as a team. PSG have many top players who can decide a game with a single individual move, but they are not a team unit.”
Atalanta’s unity is the reason for their extraordinary ascent, from battling relegation when Gian Piero Gasperini first took over in 2016, to their first ever Champions League campaign resulting in a quarter-final appearance.
“The hard work we do during the week here is incredible. Honestly, I played regularly in Holland, but I sweat three times as much with Atalanta. If we don’t have a game during the week, we do strength exercises.
“If you don’t have a lot of air in the lungs, you cannot play our style of football, which is both hard work and risky at the same time. But not a day goes by when we don’t also work with the ball in training.
“Gasperini always tells us: ‘If we are not capable of playing the ball, we won’t be able to put it in the net.’”
Gosens contributed 10 goals and eight assists in all competition this season, but is he still technically a defender in Gasperini’s 3-5-2?
“That’s a good question… My role is to cover the entire left flank. In Gasperini’s system, I have to both attack and defend. I am not just an attacking winger. So, to answer your question, I am an attacking player, but also a defender.”
Gosens has dual German and Dutch citizenship, with reports he was due to be called up by Germany just before the lockdown.
“My heart is divided in two. I have many Dutch friends, I played in Holland, but ultimately I did grow up in Germany, so let’s say 51 per cent of me is German.”
The 26-year-old is studying for his Psychology degree and assured his future will be opening a clinic to help professional athletes deal with the pressure of sport at the highest level.
“I used to dream of being a policeman, because my grandfather was in the police. My father played football, but he stopped at amateur level, because at a certain point the post-match beer started to become more important to him than the match itself!
“I played in the amateur leagues too, until the age of 19.”
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