Gian Piero Gasperini proudly states Atalanta ‘have got into this season now’ after hammering Benevento 4-1 and explains why they had to move on without Papu Gomez.
La Dea have hit their form in 2021 with three consecutive victories, in which they scored 12 goals and conceded two.
“We played a very good first half and then conceded a goal against the run of play, which can completely transform a game,” Gasperini told Sky Sport Italia.
“However, my players kept their heads, didn’t change their attitude at all, and continued to push forward in winning the match. That is a great strength, maintaining that mentality.
“Of course, the quality of the players raises the chances of winning, so Ilicic was extraordinary today, but we’ve had goals and assists from everyone over the last few weeks. When we attack, we know that we’re likely to score and have many options we can score with.”
Josip Ilicic put on a masterclass this afternoon, scoring a goal and having a hand in the other three.
“Josip has this ability to draw the attacking moves towards him, he has such quality, but it’s unfair to judge one player or area more than another. The defence and midfield are performing well too. We’ve got into this season now,” smiled Gasp.
“We are convinced it’s not just physical, we also have a tactical and technical way of evading the pressing game. There’s a lot of movement off the ball, we maintain balance even when we lose possession and don’t concede as many counter-attacks as we used to. We are constantly seeking improvement.”
Atalanta reached their peak last season in February and March with the Champions League Round of 16 against Valencia.
“I am glad we’ve rediscovered our confidence, the knowledge we can play to the 95th minute and also the enthusiasm of playing our football.
“It’s an unusual season, I don’t know if we can keep up this intensity when playing every three days, especially as we have the Coppa Italia and then the rescheduled game with Udinese.
“What I can say is that our mentality is in the right place at the moment and that certainly helps us deal with fatigue. A performance like this can only boost confidence even further.”
Without Papu Gomez in the starting XI, Atalanta have now notched up five wins and two draws. Were they right to freeze the captain out?
“It was a choice dictated by other factors. The decision was made because I need to find a different type of team. We were struggling at that moment and Gomez was not adapting to the changes, he was suffering in midfield, whereas Remo Freuler helps out a lot more.
“We had made the changes in other seasons too, but at the time, the decisions were accepted more than now.”