Gian Piero Gasperini maintains Atalanta are more than happy to be in their Champions League position after a 1-1 draw with Midtjylland. ‘We have a small advantage against Ajax.’
It was a strange game, as Alexander Scholz blasted in the opener for Midtjylland and La Dea wasted numerous chances, as well as forcing saves, until Cristian Romero’s looping header on a Hans Hateboer cross.
Ultimately, the draw makes no difference, because Ajax lost 1-0 at Anfield. That means Liverpool are already qualified and Atalanta will follow as long as they avoid defeat in Amsterdam.
“We haven’t achieved qualification yet, but we go to Amsterdam with the small advantage that we can rely on two out of three results,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“Perhaps at the start of the group, we would’ve happily agreed to being in this position going into the final game. It would be a huge success to eliminate Ajax, obviously.
“In this period, we have been doing well in defence and midfield. We’re struggling in attack, largely due to a lack of sharpness, and that also creates an irritable atmosphere. We created the chances, fortunately Romero got this wonderful goal. Maybe I’ll try using him upfront!”
At this stage last season, Atalanta had four points in the group, but now they have eight and are again in a position to qualify.
“Undoubtedly, playing these games every single week and also dealing with Serie A, which is very tough in every match, that takes away the ability to recuperate. It’s not just physical, it’s psychological too, as it really drains you if you’re not accustomed to it.
“Last season, we had a Champions League game every two or three weeks. It’s a different schedule now and we’re struggling to convert many of our chances. The difference when we played Midtjylland on their own turf was we scored early and that got everything on track, whereas this time they fielded a team set out for the counter-attack and took the lead.
“It’s good that we got a point out of it and have this small advantage against Ajax.”