Gasperini: ‘Important Atalanta week’

Gian Piero Gasperini admits the next week will be “hugely important” for Atalanta, with crunch Europa League and Serie A ties.

The Orobici saw off Sarajevo in the previous round, then beat Hapoel Haifa 2-0 on the night (6-1 on aggregate) to set up a two-legged play-off with Kobenhavn on August 23 and 30.

“Clearly it won’t be easy, as next week will be hugely important for the start of our season. We’ve got Roma and Kobenhavn, so this is the start of the campaign and the results will affect our future path,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“The lads worked hard and as the game went on, we played better, scoring two goals and using players who hadn’t been given other opportunities so far.”

Duvan Zapata and substitute Andreas Cornelius got the goals on the night against Hapoel Haifa.

“Matteo Pessina already had pre-season training with us last season before he went to La Spezia. It’s easy for him to get between the lines, he can play in any midfield role and can give us an extra gear in difficult matches.

“Duvan Zapata is gaining confidence and we might need a little more patience for him to reach full fitness, but he has the right mentality.

“Cornelius is really positive and made a big impact even in just a few minutes on the field.”

Gasperini spent much of his career at Genoa, so was particularly struck by the collapse of the Ponte Morandi bridge.

As Saturday is a day of national mourning, it was decided today to postpone Serie A games Milan-Genoa and Sampdoria-Fiorentina, but not the rest of the opening weekend’s fixtures.

“Faced with these choices, any decision is right or wrong. There have been other tragedies, for example earthquakes, and we never know whether to continue or stop to reflect, so I cannot criticise one or the other.

“It’s right for the Genovese clubs to stop this weekend.”

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