Friday September 25 2020
Gasperini expects 'a much tighter Serie A'

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini doesn’t target the Scudetto and expects a ‘much tighter’ Serie A in 2020-21, claiming ‘the level has increased’.

La Dea finished third last term and reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League in their first season among the European elite.

The new season starts with an away trip to Torino on Saturday and Gasperini doesn’t want to talk about a proposed Scudetto battle.

“We can’t start with the goal to win the Scudetto,” Gasperini said at a press conference. “Then we’ll go astray.

“We have to start the championship and set goals. It will be different, there are teams behind like Milan and Napoli, but Fiorentina and Sassuolo have played well too and are well-established teams.

“The level has increased, it could be a much tighter championship.”

Josip Ilicic has returned to the group and the coach admitted he’s in better shape, but calls for ‘caution’.

“He has started again, we are more confident, but it’s not as quick as someone says,” Gasperini added. “The lad has been training with continuity.

“If he continues like this, it will only be about getting him in shape physically.

“He’s been through a bad time. He’s been training for three days now. I’m not in a hurry, I’d be a little more cautious.

“If he’s able to play, we’ll be the first to be happy. He’s already back and he’s already joking. About [Aleksei] Miranchuk he asked me, ‘what does he have that I don’t?’. I told him, ‘surely the head’,” Gasperini laughed.

Gasperini finished fifth in the UEFA’s Coach of the Year award.

“Fifth place is definitely a grand prize for what we have done, it’s an international recognition,” the coach said. “It’s a great satisfaction.”

But Atalanta seem set to cope without the new stars in the first match against the Granata.

“Many interesting players have arrived, but [Cristian] Romero for example, is suspended.”

“[Cristiano] Piccini and [Aleksei] Miranchuk need to recover, whilst [Sam] Lammers and [Johan] Mojica arrived yesterday. If I look ahead, I see many solutions.

“Now, we will manage these three games as we have already done.”

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