Percassi: 'Atalanta won't change'

Atalanta President Antonio Percassi called their Coppa Italia Final qualification “a dream,” but won’t change their approach even if they reach the Champions League.

The 2-1 victory in the second leg allowed them to defeat Fiorentina 5-4 on aggregate and reach their first Final since 1996.

“We are very happy with the results and can only congratulate the Coach, staff and lads for this extraordinary journey,” the President told Rai Sport.

“To be honest, this is a dream. We beat teams it seemed almost impossible to get past. Now we are here, we have to prepare for the Final.”

Remarkably, Atalanta began their season earlier than anyone in Italy, as they went through the Europa League preliminary rounds only to go out at the final hurdle to FC Copenhagen on penalties.

“The night in Copenhagen helped, because we learned that football is beautiful because it is unpredictable, as we also saw with the draw against Empoli.”

Atalanta are level on points with Milan in fourth place and challenging for Champions League qualification, so Percassi was asked if that meant breaking their tradition of selling top players every summer.

“The project continues the same way it has over the last three years. Obviously, season by season, we aim to grow proportionally to the level of a provincial club like Atalanta.

“We won’t change our approach to the sport. We’ll introduce quality players, but must be careful not to go outside our boundaries.”

The showdown with Lazio is at the Stadio Olimpico on May 15, as that is the ‘home’ of the FIGC, but also happens to be home turf for the Aquile.

“I’m told there will be around 20,000 people travelling to Rome. Basically, half of Bergamo is going to this Final. May the best team win.”

The Stadio Azzurri d’Italia will undergo restructuring work this summer and their final two home matches of the season will be played at Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium.

“The first three or four home games for next season will be played outside Bergamo. We are investing around €40m, we believe it is only right to plan for the future and we’ve prepared this over the years, but are now ready to make it happen.

“I would like first and foremost to maintain our Serie A status. Anything that is extra to that is marvellous. We’ve reached the Coppa Italia Final and Champions League qualification is everyone’s dream. I’d be happy just to get into the Europa League.”

There was a minute’s silence before kick-off for former Atalanta director Mino Favini, who for 25 years helped forge what is probably the best youth academy in Italy.

“The first time I purchased the club in 1994, my first move was to ask Previtali for the best youth academy figure in Italy and he immediately said Favini.

“I spoke to him for an hour and realised how great a man he was, who was sad to leave Como, but over the years he created the history of the youth academy, which is fundamental for Atalanta.”

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