Saturday September 26 2020
Gasperini: 'Atalanta stronger this season'

Gian Piero Gasperini is convinced ‘Atalanta are stronger today than last season’ and he won’t ‘pull back from the challenge’ of the Scudetto.

La Dea opened their campaign today with a 4-2 victory away to Torino, with goals from Papu Gomez, Luis Muriel, Hans Hateboer and Marten de Roon.

“We turned the game around and we dominating, but their goal for 3-2 in theory reopened a match that had seemed closed. These are areas where we need to improve,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.

Considering they’ve been third for the last two seasons and reached the Champions League quarter-final, are Atalanta Scudetto contenders?

“We never pulled back from any challenge. However, we cannot have the Scudetto as an initial aim at the start of the season. We’ll try to start strong, as we always do, and are up against teams that are improved, a league that will be more balanced.

“As time goes on, we’ll see where we are, how the others are doing, and then evaluate it, but Atalanta cannot begin looking for the title.

“Last season, if we had won in Turin with five or six rounds to go, we might’ve had a chance, but we got there step by step. It wasn’t the initial aim.

“I do feel we are stronger now than last season. We’ve got more confidence, as with today we conceded first, but didn’t let it faze us. There is greater self-belief, and also some players who arrived and give us more options, more alternative ways to play.

“If we manage to get Josip Ilicic back to his best, then we will definitely take a step up.”

This was Atalanta’s first game of the season, as their Week 1 fixture with Lazio was postponed to September 30.

“Despite a brief pre-season period, we were able to work with the whole squad, did well in training and perhaps they were more alert precisely because there was such a small gap between the end of last season and the beginning of this one.

“People always talk about Atalanta’s physicality, but the technical aspect is often over-looked. You don’t create that many scoring opportunities without quality and that is where we have improved.

“We’ll have to see what happens when the Champions League begins, as we’ll have six weeks of midweek games and that’ll inevitably take something away from our Serie A form and above all mentally.

“I get the feeling the team is stronger today than it was last season. I think this is a campaign where I will probably rotate the squad much more and will have to try getting the new faces in as quickly as possible.”

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