Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini underlined the importance of topping the Europa League group ahead of their decisive clash with Sporting.

La Dea have not lost in their first four European evenings this term, securing wins over Sporting, Sturm Graz and Rakow Czestochowa. They currently sit three points ahead of the Portuguese side heading into their clash in Bergamo this week.

Domestically, things have been more difficult for Atalanta in recent weeks. The Bergamo outfit have only picked up one point from their last three games, drawing Udinese and losing to Inter and Napoli.

Speaking in a press conference via TMW, Gasperini first discussed Atalanta’s mindset heading into the clash with Sporting.

“We can’t think of not playing a match just because of two results out of three, we have to be good at interpreting the match based on our characteristics.

“For me, what the performance will be is still important, the ability to measure ourselves against these teams.”

He spoke about his expectations for the match.

“I think that every match is different, it will have to be evaluated on the pitch. It’s clear that we have an objective that we can achieve, that of going directly to the Round of 16. At the start of the group stage, Sporting were the most accredited team, now we start from 0-0.”

The Atalanta coach commented on the lessons learnt from the loss to Napoli.

“Football is like that, it’s a balanced moment on all levels. It’s clear that in that type of match the moments become decisive, we have to bring these moments on our side. Sometimes we took a little too little compared to the performance we put in, we have to be good at making moments.”

Gasperini spoke about the importance of topping the group.

“It’s important for us to finish first in the group because then until March we can only think about the league. It would give us two-three months to have all the players available, I’m referring to Scamacca, De Ketelaere, Touré’s recovery, they are players on which we are focusing a lot.”

He touched on his desire to tactically confuse Sporting.

“All the players can be important in this type of match. Tomorrow Atalanta and Sporting will face each other, two very important teams. We hope to create a bit of tactical confusion! But with the videos and the material, I think Amorim he knows very well how Atalanta plays.”

The coach was asked if there was a difference between Atalanta in Serie A and in the Champions League.

“No, there is no difference. I must say that even these matches that we played against Inter and Napoli satisfied me with the team, ours is a team that have shown that they’re good also from a mental point of view.

“Not having won takes away a bit of enthusiasm, but you play every three days, and you have time to start again.”

Finally, Gasperini spoke about Atalanta’s difficulties coming back from a deficit.

“I tend to evaluate matches as a whole. In the first leg against Sporting, the result was right, in some matches we took less, but I worry if Atalanta builds or offers less than the opponent. When you perform well you have more possibility of achieving results.”

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