Gian Piero Gasperini has to deal with a severely reduced attack for tomorrow’s Europa League play-off clash against Olympiacos.
La Dea won the first leg of their Europa League play-off clash against Olympiacos last week 2-1 in Bergamo, so they already have one foot in the knockout stages of the competition. They lost to Fiorentina 1-0 on the weekend, whilst their Greek opponents beat Volos 1-0.
Speaking in a press conference today, Gasperini first discussed the difference in difficulty between the Europa League and Serie A.
“Tomorrow is an important game for the Europa League, Serie A is important for the league table. It’s decisive for qualification in this competition, because of the very nature of knockout games.
“They are different games compared to the league, which still has a long way to go and it’ll be hard-fought, with everyone having a shot.”
The Italian coach then touched on the removal of the away goals rule.
“Everything changes, in tomorrow night’s game you risked being knocked out with a 1-0 loss. I think this formula is much fairer, to get through the round you have to get at least a win and a draw, if not a win by more goals. It is more difficult but fairer.”
Gasperini commented on the way that Atalanta will approach tomorrow’s match.
“When you face someone in a knockout game you have the real confrontation with your opponent. They gave us the feeling of playing our game, great respect to Olympiacos, who are capable of scoring goals straight away.
“We’ll think about playing with our own style.”
He spoke about how it’s important to bounce back quickly following the 1-0 loss to Fiorentina on the weekend.
“I think all in all playing again immediately is the best medicine, so in getting back on the pitch you have the chance to do better and also take away the heavy controversy that has been going on, not just on Sunday.”
The Atalanta coach discussed the difficulty of facing these games without a real forward available. Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel are both out injured, with Josip Ilicic unavailable due to personal reasons.
“We are experiencing a moment of emergency especially in attack, we know that. First the absence of Zapata, but now we don’t have Muriel, Ilicic and also Miranchuk, who could give us a hand.
“We have lost these games lately, but we have also been able to draw against Inter, Lazio, Juventus. We’ve always scored goals, even lately, sometimes they didn’t award it to us. Djimsiti scored last time, we’re trying more solutions. We are trying Sportiello, Rossi, we can rotate well.”
Gasperini gave his thoughts on tomorrow’s opponents Olympiacos and what he expects in the match.
“They have changed their usual set-up, I don’t know what they will decide to do tomorrow. We have seen Olympiacos often, both in Europe and in the league, they are a flexible team that changes their set-up. We have the ability and experience to deal with them.
“I expect a different game compared to the first leg, but we will have confidence and identity. It’s a long story about cup competitions, personally I always prefer to play them.
“The Europa League, the Champions League, have given us a lot in terms of growth and experience, improvement and quality. However, it adds many different situations, you meet leading teams in their countries. I would always do the cups, at certain times it’s true that they can take something away from you, much less than what they add.”
He spoke highly of the Greek squad, and their attack in particular.
“Olympiacos have a very complete squad, we know Papastathopoulos or Manolas better because of their past in Italy. I always look at the attacking potential of teams.
“They have very good players and a variety of substitutions that can determine the game. What makes it more difficult for you are the attacking players.”
The Italian coach commented on the recent American investment into Atalanta.
“I think it’s very premature to discuss this, it will be addressed. I can say that when the President and Luca Percassi informed me of the situation that was materialising it was a moment of great excitement.
“We had the feeling that we had done something very important to attract the attention of these groups from America. An era is probably coming to an end, but I believe we will become stronger, as the President said. I also hope we can achieve better results than we have in recent years.”
Gasperini confirmed that the squad that’ll face Olympiacos tomorrow are the some one that faced Fiorentina on the weekend.
“We are the same as we were on Sunday, plus Cittadini, so one more.”
— Fantacalcio (@Fantacalcio) February 23, 2022