Gian Piero Gasperini admits Genoa ‘will always be a part’ of him and Davide Ballardini can revive them, but Atalanta are focused on keeping their winning streak going.
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“Genoa forced Juventus to extra time in the Coppa Italia midweek, so they are in considerably better shape now than they were a few weeks ago,” warned the coach in his press conference.
The upturn in results coincided with the return of Davide Ballardini to the bench, replacing sacked Rolando Maran.
“They have rediscovered their enthusiasm, so we need to take the right approach, as Genoa have proved they know how to get a result.”
Atalanta are on sparkling form, as they are unbeaten in all competition since November, starting 2021 with three consecutive Serie A victories and a 3-1 Coppa Italia success against Cagliari.
“It’s important that we continue what we’re doing, as we have a strong mentality, but need to be more clinical in front of goal. We still waste too many chances to kill games off and can’t always afford to do that.”
Along with Ballardini, Gasperini is probably the most representative Genoa coach of the last few decades. Would he like to end his career at Marassi?
“We have to look to the present, although I am very happy with what I experienced in Genoa. I still have a home there, I continue to follow the progress of the team, and Genoa will always be a part of me. I hope the fans can be back soon, as they make a big difference to the performances.
“Ballardini achieved some small miracles at Genoa, but he has more time perhaps this season than in previous years. I think he can do very well with this squad, although hopefully not tomorrow.
“As far as we are concerned, it’s fundamental we keep this winning streak going and also our concentration, so don’t get swept up in euphoria.”
Papu Gomez is still frozen out, but doesn’t seem to be missed, as La Dea regularly rotate the squad with little difference to their performances.
“I do have options to choose from tomorrow, so I’ll decide also based on the upcoming games with Udinese and Milan. Everyone has recovered now, including Mattia Caldara and Mario Pasalic, although obviously they need to make their way back gradually. Matteo Pessina didn’t train and we need to be careful with him.
“Aleksei Miranchuk was out for a while between injuries and COVID. I don't know if he can be an understudy to Josip Ilicic, he has a lot of quality, but the objective is to find some sort of consistency and I in turn should adapt to his characteristics.”