Gasperini: ‘Atalanta and Ajax similar’

by | Oct 27, 2020 22:21

Gian Piero Gasperini sees ‘similarities’ in approach between Atalanta and Ajax, pointing out where they need to improve on the Champions League stage.

La Dea were 2-0 down at the break through a Dusan Tadic penalty and Lassina Traore tap-in, but two Duvan Zapata goals in six minutes completed the comeback for 2-2.

Gian Piero Gasperini sees ‘similarities’ in approach between Atalanta and Ajax, pointing out where they need to improve on the Champions League stage.

La Dea were 2-0 down at the break through a Dusan Tadic penalty and Lassina Traore tap-in, but two Duvan Zapata goals in six minutes completed the comeback for 2-2.

As Liverpool beat Midtjylland 2-0 at Anfield, they are top of the group on six points, followed by Atalanta on four, Ajax one and Midtjylland zero.

“After the goal, we had a moment of uncertainty, but the first half in general was good. We just didn’t make the most of the chances we created and especially were too hasty in the final pass. It wasn’t easy at that tempo, as Ajax had a high press,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“We were lacking something both then and with our chances to win towards the end. I must praise the lads nonetheless, because we put in a very good performance against a team that plays quick and attacking football, doing so well to get it back on track from 2-0.

“We had never faced Ajax before, so we weren’t sure how we’d hold out against them. Their style of football is quick and with great technique, so it was a fundamental test for us. It’s very risky for both teams playing that way, as the moment some spaces open up, you run some risks.

“Evidently we need to improve in the final ball, as that is what makes the difference in these matches. These teams are similar, not in terms of tactics, but the way we both attack the game, press the opposition and try to go on a rapid turnaround.

“We had to deal with the impact of their attacking waves, so yes, there are some similarities in our approaches.”

Papu Gomez seemed surprised to be substituted along with Josip Ilicic, when Luis Muriel and Ruslan Malinovskyi came on, although those two were on the touchline for a good 10 minutes waiting for the change.

“It was a moment when it was all about the attack and we have players on the bench who can switch things up there. Ilicic seemed a little tired, so were Duvan and Papu, but then they’d go on the counter with such determination and power that I felt they could easily have finished the game. It wasn’t right to change them then.”

Atalanta will host Liverpool on November 3 and visit Anfield on November 25, closing out the group at home to Midtjylland on December 1 and in Amsterdam on December 9.

“We don’t set objectives. I’d never faced Ajax before, this is not the same team as last year, but still respects the Ajax canon. Where we need to improve on the European level, it’s finding the right pass at pace when the spaces open up. We’re trying to get to Ajax’s level on that score.”

Atalanta have lost their last two Serie A matches against Napoli and Sampdoria, so are they distracted by the Champions League?

“I am not worried in Serie A. We know full well this is a fundamental period of the Champions League group, so it’s normal that we have to share out the energy. That doesn’t mean we are going to just let points go, but evidently our minds are primarily on these games in Europe, because winning early is crucial.”

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