Gian Piero Gasperini looks forward to ‘a real battle’ with Ivan Juric’s Verona and back to what Atalanta learned from the Champions League.
It kicks off on Sunday at 11.30 GMT, click here for a match preview.
This is the first game for La Dea since their Champions League Round of 16 elimination at the hands of Real Madrid, leaving only Roma in European competition.
“In these situations, we must always try to work hard, improve and do better in future. We need to raise the bar, that much is obvious, but there are some positives too,” said Gasp in his press conference.
“After all, the Italy squad hit rock bottom when it failed to qualify for the World Cup, but is now doing very well.
“Resources undoubtedly have an effect at club level, but mentality and quality do as well. We have to get back on track, we leave knowing that over two games Real Madrid were able to create very few scoring opportunities against us.
“Incidents are decisive in the Champions League, so in some situations we were unlucky, in others we didn’t do enough.
“There is a little regret, but after the first leg defeat, it was always going to be difficult. We exit the Champions League with more valuable experience, more confidence in ourselves and knowledge of where we need to improve.”
Atalanta can now focus on qualifying for the Champions League for the third season in a row, but have a tough test tomorrow with Verona.
“Serie A is a very competitive league and every result is difficult to achieve, Verona being one of the best examples of that. Their growth has been remarkable,” continued Gasperini, who was coach Ivan Juric’s mentor at Genoa.
“The race for the top four is wide open and there’s a long way to go. Juric made the most of so many players and I hope to see him at a top level club.”
Verona beat Atalanta 2-0 earlier this season, with the apprentice defeating the master.
“This is a very different game and we were unlucky then, creating many chances without taking them. Verona are capable of suffering under pressure and creating problems at the other end too. We’ll give it our best in our spirit, which is also the same spirit that Juric has at Verona, so expect a real battle.”
Gasp has come under fire for rotating goalkeepers Marco Sportiello and Pierluigi Gollini, especially after the former’s error against Real Madrid.
“They are on a similar level. Sportiello did very well in many games, he had a serious error the other night, but we’ve always tried to create competition for places, as that spurs everyone on to improve.”