Atalanta’s UEFA Champions League dream is now a reality after the club defeated Sassuolo 3-1 to qualify for Europe’s most prestigious tournament.
The Nerazzurri were in third place heading into the final day, needing a win to seal qualification into the competition for the first time in their history.
To make things a little complicated for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, the match was officially listed as an Atalanta home game, however due to current construction on their stadium, the match took place at Sassuolo’s home ground – Mapei Stadium.
It mattered not for Atalanta who, despite going 1-0 down, stormed through to the Champions League in remarkable fashion.
Gasperini was in full praise of his team and their accomplishments this season and has already declared that his side will not just be making up the numbers in Europe.
“It was a very difficult season and it ended with a game that certainly wasn’t easy,” he said.
“The boys have been wonderful, extraordinary. The Champions League was a goal that this club had never accomplished before.
“We managed to achieve it in an honourable way and we deserved it. In my opinion, we will do well in the Champions League.”
There are questions over his future however, having been recently linked with a move to Roma.
Atlanta will be desperate to keep the man who has led them to their best ever finish in their 112-year history, which despite having a wage bill worth one quarter of some of their rivals, included finishing the season on a 13-game unbeaten run and just two losses in 2019.
The remaining Champions League spot was clinched by Inter Milan, who will return to the competition for a consecutive season, hoping to avenge their group stage demons of 2018. They will join Atalanta, Juventus and Napoli in representing the Serie A.
Inter’s cross-town rivals, Milan, have missed out yet again, extending their tournament absence to six years, while fellow giants Roma have failed to qualify for the first time since the 2012/13 season.
The weekend was all about Atalanta though who have become one of the stories of the season.
They will line-up in pot 4 of next season’s Champions League draw, however based on their game style and spirit, will fear no one.