Gian Piero Gasperini is trying to keep Atalanta focused on the trip to Genoa and finding consistency, not getting distracted by the Champions League.
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This fixture begins a tour de force that the Bergamo boys are simply not accustomed to, as they travel to Dinamo Zagreb for their historic Champions League debut on Wednesday.
“We’ve been training since July to prepare for this moment, so we’ve got to start playing consistently now,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
“The first two games were a way of settling in, with ups and downs, but the time has come to steady the ship. We can’t think about there being seven matches in 22 days, we can only focus on Genoa, which is a very tough test, especially on their own turf.
“We understand the expectation around Atalanta’s first ever Champions League game, but I don’t think it’ll be a distraction, because the defeat to Torino still hurts.
“Going on the break for international duty after that was painful and at times there were only nine players in a training session. Now we’re all back together, we can start to really focus.”
Genoa are still unbeaten after a 3-3 draw at Roma and victory over Fiorentina.
“They play good quality football and have won the fans back to their side, which is a huge bonus,” continued former Genoa boss Gasperini.
“Compared to last season, we’ll have to embrace squad rotation more, but I don’t want people to think there’s some duality in the squad. There are four forwards, at times we’ll use two and others three. The same goes for defence and midfield, the decisions are based on the match and the condition of the players.”
Simon Kjaer was a deadline day arrival from Sevilla after Martin Skrtel came and went within three weeks, having struggled to deal with Gasperini’s tactics.
“Kjaer isn’t ready to play yet and needs a few more training sessions, perhaps a few more weeks. It’s easier to introduce for example a winger like Guilherme Arana, as he only has to memorise a few movements down one side. It’s more complicated for a defender.
“Rafael Toloi and Jose Luis Palomino both have slight fitness problems and I’m not sure whether to field one, both or neither. There’s also Ibanez and we’ve got to try this lad out sooner or later, as he’s got talent.”
Atalanta squad for Genoa: Rossi, Sportiello, Gollini; Toloi, Kjaer, Masiello, Palomino, Gosens, Arana, Djimsiti, Castagne, Hateboer, Ibanez; Freuler, De Roon, Malinovskyi, Pasalic; Muriel, Gomez, Ilicic, Duvan Zapata, Barrow