Roberto Donadoni: “Atalanta have a European mentality”


Former Atalanta midfielder Roberto Donadoni believes La Dea have a ‘European mentality’ and a quality bench for coach Gian Piero Gasperini to choose from. Speaking with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Donadoni previewed Atalanta’s upcoming match with Marseille in Bergamo, explaining why he thinks the Italian side hold an edge:

What do you like most about this Atalanta that is still in contention on three fronts in May?

“Allow me to clarify: this Atalanta also has a high profile from a corporate perspective. And it is from here that the whole reasoning starts and evaluations begin. A solid company that has chosen management continuity for many years consequently becomes a model, a reference not only at the national level.”

And consequently on the field…

“Consequently on the field, the players transfer this attitude that originates in the Zingonia rooms. Every season starts in one way and ends with the players’ values ​​increased, enhanced. And in this, Gian Piero Gasperini’s work is evident season after season. He grows men and players.”

And how is Gasperini on the field?

“One should follow him closely (smiles, editor’s note). But he is certainly demanding and attentive. And the players perceive this, benefit from it, and are not satisfied. They always try to go beyond, to exceed their own and the team’s limits.”

Between the first and second half of the Europa League quarter-final return against Liverpool in Bergamo, Gasperini asked his players to lower the pressure line: they replied that it was okay to attack high against the Reds to ‘go get them higher.’ For the coach of La Dea, it was a huge satisfaction…

“It means that the team, thanks to its work and that of the company, has now reached a qualitative awareness of the plays and the interpretation of the game that allows it to manage even high-level matches like the one against Liverpool. All this supported by an excellent physical condition even at the end of the season with many games in a few days. To hear those words, for a coach, is an invaluable sign.”

Speaking of mentality, Atalanta obtained an excellent 1-1 in Marseille, inside an infernal Velodrome…

“It is a positive result, although away goals no longer count double. Because that stadium is difficult, with a complicated atmosphere.”

And tomorrow night?

“In Bergamo, it will be a spectacle to see the crowd support the Goddess. But it will not be an easy game anyway. Paradoxically, Marseille, without the pressure of their whole stadium, will be able to play more freely. So, great attention also tomorrow night.”

By now Atalanta train, having played on average every three days…

“You get used to it, you acquire the mentality to do it. And it is essential to have an adequate, quality bench to allow Gasperini the right and due rotations. And it is another merit of the coach, having kept the whole group on the same positive tension line.”

Gasperini hasn’t chosen: the race for fifth place, Coppa Italia final, Europa League semi-final. Is that correct?

“When you find yourself in these situations, you don’t make choices. Also because if you get to this point, it means you’ve earned it. The championship allows you to go to the Champions League, the Coppa Italia is a trophy to be lifted and is played in a single match, and then there is a European final to reach. How do you choose?”

Does the Coppa Italia final have a favorite?

“No, it’s a wide-open game.”

And a potential Europa League final against Bayer, who haven’t lost in 48 games?

“I would see it as a beautiful game, Atalanta would have even more taste in trying to win it against a team that seems unbeatable. And then, to grow in its path, you have to play with the strong ones.”

As a former national team coach, would you call up Scamacca?

“He must conquer the European Championship on the field. But if he continues to score like this, it’s difficult to leave him out. He seems to have grown a lot in condition, in competitive nastiness. From the outside, he seemed a little ‘nice’. Now the goals have given him more confidence, and it’s thanks to daily work.”

De Ketelaere has also grown a lot…

“Charles has returned to doing the things that enchanted Milan. Perhaps in Bergamo, he has also found that atmosphere that was in Bruges.”

Koopmeiners has become the first Dutchman since your former teammate Ruud Gullit to score at least 12 goals in Serie A…

“He is a player who would make any coach’s fortune: he puts quality in three different roles, not many players like him can be found.”

In your opinion, is Atalanta the best showcase of Italian football?

“It is a model, it knows how to be patient. The majority ownership is American, but the Percassi family continues to leave its mark. Foreign ownership tends to upheaval and not provide continuity. In Bergamo, however, the Italy-USA mixture works very well.”


Serie A obsessive.