‘Dutch football has influenced me, we are meeting a giant with Ajax’

Atalanta Bergamo coach Gian Piero Gasperini is looking forward to the Champions League confrontations with Ajax and Liverpool. The 62-year-old tactician sets the bar high for the team of players Hans Hateboer, Marten de Roon and Sam Lammers.

“Dutch football has certainly influenced my vision”, Gasperini tells Italian media. “With Ajax and Liverpool, we meet two giants from the sport who have won the Champions League. But it is not only our ambition to impress with our game, we also want to reach the next round.”

Ajax may have to take Josip Ilicic into account in the duels with Atalanta. The Slovenian attacker was in top form before the corona break, but has not played since July. He was reportedly struggling with depression. However, Ilicic is on its way back. “I was one of the biggest skeptics about his return, but he’s sending a great signal in practice. I think he will return very soon,” said Gasperini, who entered his top scorer for the billion dollar ball.

Gasperini sees that the image around him as a trainer has changed since he was fired from Internazionale in 2011. “At the time I was denounced for choosing a three-man defense, but now Internazionale, AS Roma, Lazio and Juventus all play with three men in the back. In my view that is the best way to build up and the results prove me right.”

Gasperini is pleased that the Atalanta squad has embraced his approach. “For a long time people said that we simply ran more than the opponent, but in reality we are floating somewhere in the middle when you look at those statistics. We mainly have technically skilled players, otherwise you won’t score that many goals.”

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