Sunday February 21 2021
Gasperini: 'Huge risk for Atalanta'

Gian Piero Gasperini insists Atalanta ‘feel like we’ve been run over by a train and emerged without a scratch’ after beating Napoli 4-2 and prepares for Real Madrid.

“We feel like we’ve been run over by a train and emerged without a scratch. This was a huge, huge risk. We won 4-2, but it could’ve gone very differently.

“The refereeing was a big obstacle and so were the opponents!” Gasp told Sky Sport Italia.

The coach was sent off in the first half for protesting about a potential Mario Rui penalty challenge on Matteo Pessina.

“This is one incident, there were others that weren’t quite so decisive, but they add up. They were difficult for us to deal with all the way through the evening.

“I said it was a clear penalty because I could see from 70 metres away, let alone from up close. It is also a bad sign that I received a red card just for that, or that for instance Robin Gosens got that yellow card.

“We won anyway, we need to stay on our toes, because it’s a really tough season this time. We’ve got to keep our eyes open. It’s not often you end a game with a 4-2 win over Napoli and leave the pitch as furious as some of my players were tonight.”

Atalanta are now fighting for the top four in Serie A, will face Juventus in the Coppa Italia Final and Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday.

“We’ve always said that we wanted to go all the way in everything, we’re in the Coppa Italia Final, we’re up against Real Madrid in the Round of 16, it’s also a very tough Serie A campaign for everyone.”

Gasperini was asked if he will go more defensive against Real Madrid, but seemed to suggest it’ll be the usual Atalanta.

“It’s a tie played over two legs. We want to reach Madrid still in the running for qualification. We certainly won’t change our nature, but we must also take into account the characteristics of our opponents, their strengths and the fact they don’t need many chances to win.

“It’s fundamental that we score goals against them, that’s the main thing.”

Muriel was inspirational this evening, including a fantastic solo strike, and helped create other goals too.

“He has the quality of a top player, more this season than ever before. His goal tonight was marvellous, really. He is in excellent shape at the moment in every way, physically, psychologically, in his mood and his work ethic.

“It’s also not true that he doesn’t play regularly, because the statistics show Muriel does play almost all the time.

“Josip Ilicic had some extraordinary games, but we have other lads who are in good shape right now, and he has some ups and downs. I am convinced he’ll soon be back in the right form to be an added bonus for this team.”