No Gasperini complacency as Atalanta prepare for understrength Valencia
Gian Piero Gasperini will not allow Atalanta to become complacent as they prepare to face Valencia in the last 16 of the Champions League, despite selection concerns for the LaLiga side.
Atalanta recovered from three straight defeats at the start of their debut campaign in Europe's elite club competition to sensationally progress through the group stage.
The entertaining Serie A outfit now appear to have a great opportunity to make the quarter-finals after being granted a kinder draw against Valencia.
The first leg takes place at San Siro on Wednesday, and Alessandro Florenzi, Ezequiel Garay, Gabriel and Rodrigo Moreno are among the players missing from the Valencia squad.
Gasperini is not getting carried away but hopes to be able to seize the initiative in the opening encounter.
"It must be the same Atalanta as always," he told a news conference. "We must be free, knowing that just being here is already a great success. Now, we must play our best.
"The game against Roma on Saturday [a 2-1 win] was decisive but then there are another 14 games [in Serie A]. We have played many important games now over the years, from the Europa League to Shakhtar [Donetsk in the Champions League group stage], where we were through or we were out. We must use this experience.
February 18, 2020Main links
"We know we are facing a team of enormous quality and must be ready from the beginning. I would be very happy to go to Mestalla in the lead.
"It is fine to be confident, but we will need a really important performance to get through this round."
He added: "Despite the absentees, Valencia will play with 11, just like us. We must be careful talking about this. They won at Ajax and Chelsea and came first in their group."
Valencia coach Albert Celades is confident the players available to him can still pose a threat.
"Unfortunately, we are used to these things [injuries]," he said. "I feel sorry for those who stayed at home, who can't play at San Siro in the last 16 of the Champions League.
"I'm very happy for those who are playing and sorry for those who stayed at home, but we have to get used to this situation. We still have a great team available from the bench.
"We have to play against a very offensive team, with the best attack in Serie A. Their season has been impressive - they have a lot of fun.
"Regardless of injuries, we will manage the team and we try to compete to the maximum."