There are reports Liverpool have reached a verbal agreement with Rúben Amorim, but the Reds should watch out for underrated Gian Piero Gasperini, who is unbeaten in four Europa League matches against Sporting CP this term, writes Lorenzo Bettoni.

Liverpool seem to have picked Jurgen Klopp’s successor as Florian Plettenberg reported on Tuesday that the Reds had reached a verbal agreement with Sporting CP boss Ruben Amorim. Several candidates, including Xabi Alonso and Roberto De Zerbi, had been linked with replacing Klopp, but the Portuguese coach appears to be the chosen one at Anfield.

His Sporting side are four points clear of second-placed Benfica at the top of the Portuguese league table with a game in hand but one of the few disappointments for Amorim this season came against Atalanta in the Europa League.

La Dea secured one win and one draw in the group phase and then eliminated Sporting CP in the Round of 16 with a 3-2 aggregate win which paved the way for the quarter-finals against Liverpool.

The Reds are not only favourites against La Dea but remain the team to beat in the Europa League this season. Even Milan and Roma, on paper, are not as strong or well-equipped as Liverpool, but this doesn’t mean the Premier League giants have already lifted the cup or even eliminated Atalanta.

La Dea may have lost two consecutive matches, against Fiorentina in Coppa Italia and Cagliari in Serie A, but they remain one of the most exciting teams to watch in Europe. Their coach, Gasperini, surely is among the most underrated managers in the Old Continent.

Gasperini: ‘Atalanta face Liverpool with Cagliari spirit’

First of all, Atalanta are still involved in every competition this season. They will play the second leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals at home against Fiorentina later this month. They’ll meet Liverpool in the Europa League quarter-finals, and they remain eight points below a top-four placement and five below 5th-placed Roma in the Serie A table with a game in hand. It couldn’t get much better for a team with the 8th wage bill in Serie A.

The work Atalanta are doing off the pitch has been excellent. Regardless of the sales of their top players, the last one was Rasmusn Hojlund to Manchester United for over €75m last summer, they always make suitable investments to strengthen the team and make wise use of Academy products. Players like Giorgio Scalvini and Matteo Ruggeri have been thriving under Gasperini who has achieved impressive results in Bergamo and inspired several coaches, including the emerging Thiago Motta, with an innovative playing style.

Not many remember that Gasp was one of the first coaches to use a three-man formation with one of the three defenders running forward or moving into a central position to create numerical advantage in the middle of the park. Several coaches around Europe have also replicated his aggressive man-to-man coverage.

Fabio Caressa, one of Italy’s most famous football journalists, said last week that Gasperini is one of the coaches who “changed football”, even if his lack of trophies means he’s not considered among the greatest managers.

Gasp’s only experience at a top club didn’t help him either. The 66-year-old from Grugliasco was appointed by Inter in 2011 but remained in charge for just five matches, drawing once and losing four times. It was surely the most disappointing coaching experience for the Italian tactician who hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves in his career also due to his flop at the Stadio Meazza.

‘Liverpool will have the same spirit as Cagliari’ against Atalanta

Back in 2019, after a Champions League meeting with La Dea, Pep Guardiola compared Atalanta and their coach to a “tough” trip to the dentist. Atalanta did lose 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium but held the Premier League giants to a 1-1 draw in Bergamo.

Other epic European games for Atalanta include victories against Everton (3-0 at home and 5-1 away) in the 2017-18 Europa League group stage, qualification for the 2019-20 Champions League quarter-finals after beating Valencia 8-4 on aggregate in the Round of 16. That season, they came just five minutes away from the UCL semifinals, losing 2-1 to PSG, conceding twice in stoppage time.

Atalanta also beat Ajax away the following season and held Manchester United to a 2-2 draw in Bergamo 2021. La Dea lost 3-2 to the Red Devils at Old Trafford that same year, but only after seeing the Premier League side recover from two goals down after the break.

Liverpool will surely be aware of Atalanta’s strength, too, as La Dea won 2-0 at Anfield in the 2020-21 Champions League group phase. However, the real warning for the Reds comes from Gasp’s record against their potential next coach who couldn’t beat his Atalanta side in four games this term.

One thought on “Ruben Amorim agreement should warn Liverpool about underrated Gasperini and Atalanta”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *