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Champions League: Atalanta Shoulder Italian Hopes

Atalanta tackle Paris Saint-Germain within the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday with the match debutants the marvel same old bearers for Italian soccer in Lisbon. Serie A champions Juventus and Napoli had been felled within the remaining 16, leaving Atalanta to hold the country’s hopes of a primary primary Eu trophy since Inter Milan’s 2010 triumph. PSG is not going to have famous person Kylian Mbappe to be had, however Atalanta glance set to be with out best scorer Josip Ilicic, who discovered the online 21 instances in all competitions, together with 5 within the Champions League.

“We pass over Ilicic very a lot,” mentioned trainer Gian Piero Gasperini.

“It used to be his season. Till February, he used to be probably the most decisive participant in our ahead line.”

The 32-year-old Slovenian used to be on shape till the coronavirus engulfed Italy and specifically the staff’s house town Bergamo, the place at one level the military used to be referred to as in to remove coffins as a result of native morgues may just no longer deal with the selection of virus deaths.

Illcic used to be crushed through non-public and mental difficulties and has been sidelined for the staff’s last video games of the season.

However Atalanta’s energy has been the selection of avid gamers who’ve contributed to their all-competitions tally of 118 objectives.

Colombians Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel have scored 19 each and every in general, with Mario Pasalic netting 11, mercurial Papu Gomez 8 and Ruslan Malinovskyi 9.

And the unpredictable nature of the season has given ‘L. a. Dea’ (The Goddess) reason why to dream regardless of the membership having received only one primary trophy, the 1963 Italian Cup, in its 112-year historical past.

“Atalanta belongs to the town and you are feeling a part of this,” mentioned captain Gomez.

“We all know we are a staff from a town of about 100,000 other people and no longer the large staff of a capital. However we all know the place we’re going and what we wish.

“We have now discovered alongside the way in which, from the primary fit within the Champions League, once we conceded 4 towards Dinamo Zagreb.

“We raised the extent and now they are asking us for the Champions League. Attaining this purpose is useful.”

‘Past optimism’

Atalanta’s transformation into Italian name contenders, with two third-place finishes in as many seasons, has been overseen through the membership’s billionaire proprietor Antonio Percassi, who performed as a defender for the membership.

The 67-year-old took over as president in 2010 and dealing along with his two sons he has lifted the membership to new heights.

“It used to be no longer simple, however the remaining 3 years have long gone past probably the most positive forecasts,” mentioned Percassi.

“It is our tale, that of all of the ‘Atalantina’ circle of relatives.”

Gasperini’s Eu marketing campaign began disastrously, shedding their first 3 crew video games and conceding 11 objectives, however they bounced again to qualify for the knockout levels.

Italy trainer Roberto Mancini believes Atalanta have reworked the Italian recreation.

“They’ve a contemporary spirit and ideas — braveness to dare, attacking taste, seek for dominance past the outcome,” Mancini advised Gazzetta Dello Recreation.

“The highest golf equipment in Europe all play with this mentality, however issues are converting in Italy too, many coaches are extra bold these days, additionally because of Atalanta.

“They’ve proven positive form of soccer, in addition to being gorgeous, reaps effects.

“They’ve the whole thing to play the quarter-final with self belief.”


Gasperini in the meantime will hope to apply Hector Cuper’s Valencia, who twenty years in the past had been marvel Champions League finalists, within the yr in their 1/3 position league end.

Valencia misplaced to Actual Madrid, however received L. a. Liga the next season.

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