Gian Piero Gasperini urges his players to stick to their attacking style against Real Madrid … but Atalanta’s boss insists his side are NOT favorites, despite Zinedine Zidane having only 11 senior fielders for the trip to Italy
- Atalanta welcomes Real Madrid in Bergamo in the Champions League this week
- Manager Gian Piero Gasperini has promised to stick to his side’s identity
- Real Madrid is facing a crippling injury crisis ahead of their trip to Italy
- Zinedine Zidane only managed to bring in just 11 senior field players
Gian Piero Gasperini says Atalanta cannot lose their identity when they play against Real Madrid in the Champions League of the last 16 and insists that an injury crisis does not make the Spaniards any less dangerous.
The two sides will meet in Bergamo for the first leg on Wednesday and 13-time European champions Madrid have traveled with just 11 fit senior players.
Atalanta, who reached the quarter-finals last season in their debut campaign in the league, is known for his energetic, attacking football style and Gasperini is determined not to change his team’s approach too much.
“We cannot disrupt our characteristics, which allowed us to reach the Champions League and be competitive in Italy,” said the coach.
‘We will not distort the team, but we do have to pay attention and take some precautions.
“We want to challenge the absolute best teams and we feel in the right shape to do our best.”
Real Madrid are missing some of the key players for the trip to Italy, with striker Karim Benzema joining Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Marcelo on the injuries list this week.
But the Spanish side has won four games in LaLiga, taking them to second place and not scoring a goal in their last three games.
‘The ideal result is winning, but we have to be careful. We will find an alert and focused team despite their absence, ”said Gasperini.
‘We are free and calm. We are not the favorites and we have no obligation to continue. We want to measure ourselves against this team to understand what we are made of.
Real Madrid turns into the Champions League. I don’t believe much in their absence; you can take away the talent, but the Real team on show over the past few weekends was a more humble side, and that’s a quality.
“They won difficult matches to climb the table at a difficult time, that can only be a credit.”
Atalanta has also enjoyed a good streak of recent form, winning three times in a row and five games unbeaten before Madrid’s visit.
Forward Luis Muriel was on form in a 4-2 win over Napoli on Sunday, scoring one goal and establishing another to send his side to fifth place.
‘If we give everything and believe in our qualities, we can beat anyone. By playing in the way we know we can compete at the highest level, ‘said Muriel.