The Nerazzurri coach: “Zapata is strong, he doesn’t have to prove anything with goals. I’m angry with those who say that if we don’t get to the top, we’ll fail”

    by our correspondent Andrea Elefante

    January 3rd

    A hungrier Atalanta, a squad to respect even if in theory too long, the goal of doing the best. With the goal of a healthy budget and club which is also a priority over returning to Europe, “which obviously would be nice”. It may be that he hasn’t spoken on the eve of a match for a long time, but Gian Piero Gasperini is a river in flood, quantity of words proportional to the desire to start again: starting with La Spezia, tomorrow. Talking about the unknown is perhaps excessive, but deciphering what might be behind a fifty-day long barrier is not easy. Above all, there are no reliable parameters to make predictions. If not those allowed by what the coach has seen on the pitch, since his return to Zingonia.


    And the Gasp saw good things: “This break allowed us to train a lot and well, with international tests in which I saw significant approaches. But it was also important to get to know each other better, talk to each other, as happens when there is no pressure of the result and strong ties in the group. What we have observed is that perhaps the team needs to find a little hunger again, if we don’t want to say malice: certain reasons that are typical of Atalanta. As I read in an interview of Caldara, when you face Atalanta you face a culture and certain things have perhaps failed a little, we missed them especially when we needed to straighten matches, as we were good at doing in the past. maybe they don’t let you win games, but it’s a value that needs to be re-proposed in a more convincing way over the next five months, especially at home, where we may have had an overly confident approach at times, as well as paying for the lack of a little quality, which is compensated for by a little more physicality”.

    Six matches or seven?

    It starts away again, not at home: in La Spezia, “the first of seven games all in January, and we really hope there will be seven, or rather two and not just one in the Italian Cup: we have been at a standstill for a long time, it is normal for the calendar to change pressing. It’s a bit like being at the beginning of the season: there’s a desire to start again, but for everyone. Spezia is a good team, with a precise identity, and with Gotti they have added a little courage in more, after Motta’s management it has improved further. A fair performance will be needed: I believe that from January onwards it will be a more balanced championship than what has existed so far and speaking of easy games, as I read and hear someone say, I cannot seems to me to correspond to reality”.


    It’s the first tackle against a slice of the local press to which Gasperini spares no other very direct words: “If you ask me what our goal is, I’ll answer: as much as possible. I’m worried because I read every day that Atalanta are a great team and that if we don’t go to Europe it will be a failure. Luckily I’m not referring to the fans, who on the contrary are always very close to the team. Anyone who wants to fuel this type of controversy is a ballast for Atalanta. They even pitted me against the president Percassi for whom I have exaggerated respect, for the charisma he has, for what he has done for me and for our identity of views. I have always said that it would be nice to return to Europe, but the most important thing is that society is always healthy: it is our most important record, how to value and prepare our young people.I am convinced that having always maintained extraordinary balance sheets has been our most important success: in this way society can I look to the future with serenity”.

    Classification drawings

    How Gasperini looks at today’s standings: “After reading so many negative things, in doubt that someone had forgotten our 27 points, I put it back in front of the team, we really wrote it by hand. We are in the company of all the big, it’s difficult for me to understand so many perplexities. If the championship ended today, we would be in the Europa League. As for the four defeats, we need to see what we focus on: if we calculate them in the last five games it seems like a mess, seen globally over 15 games I think it’s a nice journey. But luckily we’re starting again now”. With a large squad, and this is known: “But I never have squad problems, I coached 40 players at Genoa. I make the right squads, not short ones: for me a strong group is more important than a large one, exaggerated squads they are useless except to fill your mouth and throw fire in your eyes. Also because the players cost a lot, and having 3-4 less would obviously have a different incidence. I’ve always done this and it’s always gone well, I don’t take lessons how roses are made: I respect the ideas of others, but that’s how I work This year, unfortunately, there is a situation of too many roses, but there was no other possibility, and I don’t think it will change much in January . But I’ve never sent anyone away. 25 of us leave tomorrow, only Demiral and Musso remain at home, let’s see if they can be recovered for Bologna. Porto Hateboer even if he can’t play yet, but he’s been here for years and he’s a “captain” as well he”.

    Maehle evolution

    And Zapata too, by now. “And he doesn’t have to prove anything to me with goals, it’s not with an extra penalty scored (alluding to the one taken and missed, even though it wasn’t his due, against Az Alkmaar) that he shows me he’s back to what he was before: Duvàn is strong, I’m fine with what he’s doing on the pitch.” And also what Maehle is doing, even as a midfielder, where the coach has been testing him lately, instead of on the wing: “Today Maehle is a very integrated, very positive player. I waited to put him in the middle because he had the World Cup and he wouldn’t be it was nice to change his role with respect to the one he covers in the national team. But he can stay in the middle of the field and gives very positive results: he has particular running and resistance, from a central position even greater ability to insert. He is young and available, he can have this evolution, as we also agreed together”.