LONDON (AP) — Atalanta has overachieved in Italy, and Atalanta’s players have been overachieving at the European Championship.
The club from the small northern Italian city of Bergamo has been transformed into an attack-minded force by coach Gian Piero Gasperini and his players are working just as hard for their national teams at Euro 2020.
“You have to thank Mr. Gasperini,” said Germany defender Robin Gosens, who scored a goal against defending champion Portugal in the group stage. “He had a great influence on it and these qualities that seem to have slumbered in me a bit were tickled out of me with the game system in Bergamo.
“I’ve been there for four years now and have internalized the system. I’m someone who likes to take part in the offensive game and I also have the dynamism and the time to score.”
Gosens isn’t the only one. Matteo Pessina has scored two goals for Italy, as has Joakim Mæhle for Denmark. Both of those players have advanced to the quarterfinals.
Other Atalanta players to score so far at Euro 2020 are Croatia midfielder Mario Pašalić and Russia forward Aleksei Miranchuk. And Pašalić’s goal was one of the biggest.
He netted an injury-time equalizer against Spain on Monday to send the match to extra time at 3-3. The Spanish, however, went on to win 5-3 in and reach the quarterfinals while Croatia was eliminated.
Atalanta’s five scorers at Euro 2020 make it the club with the most different players to find the net at the tournament. They have also tied the record for most in tournament history alongside Anderlecht in 1984, Barcelona in 2000 and Real Madrid in 2012.
Not bad for a club that once bounced back and forth between the top two divisions but will soon play in its third consecutive season in the Champions League.
Italy defender Rafael Tolói and Netherlands midfielder Marten de Roon are the only Atalanta players not to have scored at Euro 2020. So far, anyway. Tolói could get another chance in the quarterfinals against Belgium on Friday in Munich.
There could be a downside for Atalanta, however, with someone like Gosens making himself so well-known to all the big European clubs after thriving as a left back or winger and scoring 11 goals in Serie A last season.
“The Atalanta sports director has already written to me and expressed his congratulations,” the 26-year-old Gosens said after being named UEFA’s man of the match against Portugal. “I think they are just happy for me now and proud that I played a good game at a European Championship.
“It certainly happens that you end up on the screen of other teams through such an achievement, but we’ll take a look at it after the Euros.”
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