Gasperini: ‘Young Boys important, not decisive. Zapata in great shape’

Gian Piero Gasperini

Gian Piero Gasperini said Atalanta are prepared for ‘an important’ match against Young Boys, but stressed ‘the decisive games come later’ in the competition.

The coach revealed Luis Muriel should be back in the squad for the match against the Swiss giants, but the Colombian returning from injury will only be on the bench.

Atalanta prepare for the second round of fixtures in the Champions League, after the 2-2 draw against Villarreal in the first game.

Gasperini said the match against Young Boys will be important, ahead of a double tie with Manchester United, but stressed the second game is not decisive for the final outcome in Group F.

Muriel returns for Atalanta, on the bench against Young Boys

“It’s an important game, but not a decisive one,” Gasperini said at a press conference. “The fact that Young Boys beat Manchester makes everything more complicated.

“It’s important, but the decisive ones will come later. They are a well organised team, they have always played 4-4-2. But against Manchester United, they changed.

“They are a team used to and trained to win, in the last 10 games they have won nine and drawn one, they attack with everyone. It’s a team of a certain value, but tomorrow we play a fundamental game to bring home the three points.”

Atalanta drew 2-2 with Inter four days ago and Gasperini believes the Nerazzurri had time to recover for the Champions League match.

“From a physical and athletic point of view, it’s possible and easy to recover after four days,” he said. “The nervous energies are less predictable, even from subject to subject.

“There’s the advantage of playing a game in the Champions League: there are no major problems because they are so prestigious and valuable that everyone feels the right way.

“The league games are difficult, the ones in the Champions League are even more difficult. We face them with the best possible attention.

“We played a good match against Inter, I disagree with those who say that Inter deserved more. We have more chances, we came close to winning.

“It will help us improve certain aspects, but when you travel to Milan against the Italian champions, you have to draw strength, confidence, morale for the rest of the season.”

The fans return to the Gewiss Stadium in the Champions League and Gasperini feels it’s fundamental for football.

Freuler ‘confident’ ahead of ‘difficult’ Young Boys match

“It’s a fundamental component of sport, of the show, for football,” he said. “We played many months without fans, even on Saturday against Inter it changes with the participation of the people.

“I hope that from 50 per cent we can reach 100 per cent, as it happens in other countries and in the shortest possible time.

“It’s another event, the game takes advantage of it, the players, there’s another participation.”

Gasperini hopes to see La Dea ‘exploit’ the fact that they play at home against Young Boys.

“The home factor, if you can exploit it, it gives you more chances,” he said. “I think this is a group where you have to score points everywhere, with a lot of humility and conviction, because there are no obvious games.

“It could have had different results, I think it will be like this for a while every game. We will have to play 90 to 95 minutes, without thinking either positive of negative.”

But Atalanta have a poor record at the Gewiss Stadium in the Champions League, as they have never won in Bergamo.

“We never won, it’s true, we played three games against Ajax, Midtjylland and Liverpool,” he said. “It went like this due to the difficulty of the games.

“We laid the foundations to advance, especially away from home, it could be a different occasion. You can get the points wherever you want, but they count as much. It’s clear that I would not mind doing what we did away at home.”

Colombian striker Duvan Zapata has scored twice in four Serie A games and is searching for his first in the Champions League this season.

Gasperini believes the 30-year-old is in great shape and will be important for Atalanta’s success.

“He seems to be in great shape, very fit,” Gasperini said. “He’s more than active. The forwards are often replaced more, not out of demerit but to include fresh players towards the end.

“The starters are not always the ones who start the games, with five substitutions this has changed the forwards.

“Whoever takes over can often be decisive.”

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