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Gasperini: ‘We’re not afraid of Napoli, we respect them’

Atalanta coach GianPiero Gasperini didn’t expect his side to start the season in such strong form and insists they are not afraid of Napoli, ahead of next weekends match. La Dea were impressive once again, seeing off Empoli 2-0 with goals from Hans Hateboer and Ademola Lookman, and victory made it 8 wins from 12 games, a first in the clubs history.

Speaking to Sky Sport Italia after the game, Gasperini analysed the victory and looked ahead to next weekends clash against top of the table Napoli:

It was a good game, perhaps on a technical level one of the best. Against Lazio there was a blackout, maybe also because of Lazio.

I personally didn’t think we could stay top for 8 days. It’s a particular season in which we had doubts whether to start with many more youngsters or instead keep the backbone of the team. For me it was very difficult to leave players like Muriel and Malinovskyi on the bench. The players did well, also because on many other occasions, the side is just waiting to create problems. If we improve technically we can stay at the top and grow many young players but at the same time, taking away satisfaction from those who have been here for a long time.

Lookman? He has scored five goals and always makes an important contribution to the team. He has technique and speed, we are happy to have him in the team. He played from the beginning of the season and immediately convinced us.

Napoli? We are not afraid of them but there is great admiration, they are extraordinary. There is great enthusiasm around this team, it is wonderful. The important thing is that they don’t do so well in Bergamo because we need points!

This year there is great confidence and we have often been cynical. At this point of the season it is also important how we play and in my opinion we have seen improvements. This game gives us satisfaction.

Style of play? The quality and number of goals is not dictated by the number of strikers on the pitch. The year we scored 98 goals we didn’t have that many. Now we are looking for balance in attack but we are looking for goals from the strikers. It’s too bad Muriel was disqualified today, and we are getting Zapata back. I liked Holjund a lot, he is young and not so raw. He is a player that Atalanta must focus on.”

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