Atalanta, divine surprise. In their first participation in the Champions League and despite a catastrophic start, the Bergamo team found a way to the round of 16, to the delirium of the entire city. The 0-3 to Shakhtar in Kharkiv, with goals from Timoty Castagne, Mario Pasalic and Robin Gosens closed the historic pass of La Dea , the goddess in Italian, placed among the 16 best teams in Europe.
"Divine" for Tuttosport , "Mythical" for La Gazzetta dello Sport and "Magical" for Il Corriere : sports newspapers spared no praise for Atalanta, just one day after their criticism of Inter Milan, relegated to the Europa League after his defeat at Giuseppe Meazza against Barcelona. The Milanese Coliseum is precisely the headquarters of the Atalanta Champions duels, which still awaits the end of the works of its Atleti Azzuri d'Italia stadium.
At the beginning of the year the Gazzetta had estimated at 36 million euros the salary mass of the Bergamasco club, the 13th of the Serie A, behind the Cagliari or the Bologna and just a little more than the salary of Cristiano Ronaldo in Juventus (31 millions of euros).
Zapata, Ilicic and Gómez
Atalanta is a small club with only one title in its medal winners: the 1963 Italian Cup. However, everything changed in 2016 with the arrival of Gian Piero Gasperini and his "white-armed football", as he defined last year the Gazzetta the aggressive game plan of his coach. With him, the team was climbing in Serie A, from the seventh place of 2018 to the third of last season, the best classification in its history.
The three initial defeats in Group C (4-0 in Zagreb against Dinamo, 1-2 against Shakhtar and 5-1 in Manchester against City) did not despair of the faithful soldiers of 'Gasp'. Marten De Roon, Timothy Castagne, Robin Gosens and the rest of the unknown day laborers learned quickly and escorted the brilliant Duván Zapata, Josip Ilicic and 'Papu' Gómez. The seven points tied in the last three days of the league were enough to cancel the options of Shakhtar and Dinamo Zagreb.
"A unique emotion"
In Bergamo it was not expected at dawn to give rein to euphoria. Since the final whistle of Felix Zwayer, the city center was invaded by hundreds of 'tifosi' and at the airport about 2,000 people welcomed their heroes, flags and flares in hand.
Luis Muriel and 'Papu' Gómez got on the roof of the bus to avoid missing anything from the party. Hours earlier, the talented Argentine captain had explained: "There are no words. It is a unique emotion, something that will remain in the history of this club and football."
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