Gian Piero Gasperini expects the battle for a top four slot to go all the way this season, warning Atalanta against complacency with Fiorentina.
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La Dea are in fourth place, but one point behind Juventus and only two adrift of Milan in second, as the race for a Champions League spot hots up.
“I think there’s a long way to go yet, as nine games is basically a quarter of the season, so nothing is decisive yet,” said Gasperini in his press conference.
“We must continue taking it one game at a time. It’s a fascinating campaign and we really enjoy being a part of that race. It fires us up and Fiorentina are no more or less important than any other opponent.
“Fiorentina are a good team, they haven’t been able to live up to expectations this season, but they’re hardly alone in that sense. In a way, I think Atalanta replaced Fiorentina in the traditional Serie A standings.
“I hope this battle for the top four can continue to the last week, the sprint has started.”
Franck Ribery is suspended, so the danger man in the Fiorentina squad is Dusan Vlahovic.
“He is doing very well and at times a coach can bring something special out of a player. Speaking of which, I want to send a big hug to Cesare Prandelli, because he should know there are many people who admire him and everything he did in football.”
Matteo Pessina is ruled out after contracting COVID-19 while on international duty with Italy.
“It’s a pity to lose a player in this way, but we have a few options to replace him. We tested out different tactical systems too, but again that is nothing new, we’ve always done that in training.”
Gasp was asked if he watched Real Madrid’s Champions League victory against Liverpool.
“Our games against Real Madrid did leave a bitter taste in the mouth, because we had the feeling we could cause them problems, even more than Liverpool did. It was nonetheless a good Champions League campaign for Atalanta.”