Sport Atalanta target for next season? - Avoid relegation

19:18  13 august  2020
19:18  13 august  2020 Source:   reuters.com

PSG: which team against Atalanta? The latest trend

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Duvan Zapata holding a baseball bat: FILE PHOTO: Serie A - Hellas Verona v Atalanta © Reuters/Alberto Lingria FILE PHOTO: Serie A - Hellas Verona v Atalanta

By Brian Homewood

(Reuters) - After their remarkable run in the Champions League and record-equalling third-place finish in Serie A, Atalanta have already set their main target for next season: avoid relegation.

The provincial club's 2019-20 Champions League run ended in heart-breaking fashion on Wednesday as they conceded two very late goals to lose 2-1 to Paris St Germain, a club with vastly superior spending power, in their quarter-final in Lisbon.

Like Barca without Messi, Juve without Ronaldo - Ilicic out of Atalanta's PSG showdown

  Like Barca without Messi, Juve without Ronaldo - Ilicic out of Atalanta's PSG showdown Atalanta are preparing for their Champions League campaign without Josip Ilicic, with the forward at home in Slovenia for personal reasons.Ilicic was Atalanta's hero in their last-16 encounter against Valencia, following a superb finish in a 4-1 first-leg victory at San Siro by scoring all four in a 4-3 triumph at the Mestalla.

But many would like to see free-scoring Atalanta go even further next season and provide more moment such as their 8-4 last 16 aggregate win over Valencia.

However, the financial realities of modern football make it difficult for the likes of Atalanta to compete regularly with the big clubs as their president Antonio Percassi made clear when asked if they could target the Serie A title next season.

"Let's think first about saving ourselves," he said. "Anything more than that is fantastic. We suffered for years, and our goal is to stay in Serie A. That's the reality, it's always been like that."

For Europe's biggest clubs, the end of the season and the following transfer window is a time for cherry-picking the most talented players from smaller rivals by making financial offers that neither the player nor the club can refuse.

Atalanta-PSG, a referee with a light CV but…

 Atalanta-PSG, a referee with a light CV but… © Supplied by Sports.fr Anthony Taylor has been appointed by UEFA to referee Atalanta-PSG. UEFA have appointed inexperienced Anthony Taylor to lead the Champions League quarter-final between Atalanta and PSG on Wednesday night. A referee who brings back good memories to Parisians. D-2 ahead of the highly anticipated Champions League quarter-final between Atalanta and PSG.

By the same logic, the challenge for middle-ranking teams such as Atalanta is to avoid having their best players, and their coach, snatched away, leaving them having to rebuild from scratch.

So far Atalanta have managed to avoid that fate. Having been relegated three times between 2003 and 2011, Atalanta have enjoyed a vast improvement following the arrival of coach Gian Piero Gasperini in 2016.

The 62-year-old led them to fourth place in his first season and despite seeing Andrea Conti and Franck Kessie leave for AC Milan, they rebuilt and finished seventh in 2017-18, also reaching the Coppa Italia semi-finals.

That was followed by successive third places in 2018-19 and then again this term, which also featured their debut in the Champions League. But it always feels as if the Sword of Damocles is hanging over them.

"Several players will be targeted, not just Duvan Zapata," said Percassi, referring to the Colombia striker. "We will do everything we can to keep them, unless the sums involved are impossible to refuse."

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"Our progress has not been a fluke, it has been a constant growth and we intend to keep that process going," he added.

"Football is a meritocracy. We see a lot of small-medium clubs in Italy working in this direction, and we hope that there can be more following our journey."

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Gallery: The world's best-paid soccer players and managers (StarsInsider)

a man looking at the camera: It's game night and PSG enters the field with two of the best soccer players across the globe. Will that make a difference? In March 2020, France Football magazine unveiled the list of the world's best-paid soccer players and managers. The report takes into account their salary, as well as money earned from advertisements and bonuses.Click through the following gallery and find out who the top earners in the sport are.

Neymar will put on a big performance against Atalanta - PSG boss Tuchel .
Neymar has been impressive since returning to action for Paris Saint-Germain and Thomas Tuchel expects that to continue against Atalanta.Neymar was on target in both legs as PSG dispatched Borussia Dortmund in the last-16 and has been in fine form since returning to action after Ligue 1 was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic in April.

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