Gian Piero Gasperini has of course also seen that Ajax booked a record victory over VVV-Venlo (0-13) last weekend, but the Atalanta coach emphasizes that the result does not say much about the Champions League game in Bergamo on Tuesday evening.
‘This match is not crucial’
“That 0-13 win tells us that Ajax has a good team, we also saw that last week against Liverpool (0-1 defeat, ed.)”, Gasperini said on Monday at his anticipatory press conference.
“Ajax can afford to experiment a bit in some league matches, that helps them. But the Champions League is something different. It will be a difficult match for us tomorrow, but we are hopeful that we can also make it difficult for them. We will have to play well, because Ajax is in top form. “
Atalanta did not have an ideal preparation for the second group match in the Champions League. The number three of Serie A last season lost 1-3 to Sampdoria on Saturday at home. It was the second league loss in a row, after the team had started the year with three big victories.
According to Gasperini, the duel with Sampdoria cannot be compared to the match against Ajax. “Sampdoria is a defensive team, while Ajax always attacks with many players. It will be more of an open duel.”
Gasperini knows that his team can take a big step towards the knockout phase of the Champions League on Tuesday. Atalanta won 0-4 against FC Midtjylland last week and with a victory over Ajax the difference with the team from Amsterdam is already six points, with four matches to go.
“We have laid a good foundation with a first away, but we also know that we are in a very difficult group and that Ajax and Liverpool are very strong teams,” said the Italian trainer. “Tomorrow’s game is important, but not crucial.”
A setback for Gasperini is that he does not have access to Marten de Roon. The twenty-time Orange-international suffered a groin injury against Sampdoria and was eliminated for a few weeks. “It is very annoying that Marten cannot play, because he is very important to our game.”
With Hans Hateboer and Sam Lammers, Gasperini has two fit Dutchmen in his selection. “It will be a very special game for me,” said Hateboer, who also attended the press conference. “I have often played against Ajax, but it is different if you do that on behalf of a foreign club.”
Atalanta-Ajax starts on Tuesday at 9 p.m. and is led by the experienced Slovenian referee Damir Skomina.
View the program and the standings of the Champions League