Rome (AFP) – Atalanta take on Lazio on Wednesday looking to cap an impressive season by lifting the Coppa Italia as they fight on two fronts with the Champions League also within their sights.
The team from Bergamo have won the Coppa Italia just once in 1963, finishing runners-up in the finals twice since then in 1987 and 1996.
But they dumped four-time Coppa d’Italia holders Juventus out of the tournament 3-0 in the quarter-finals last January to light a spark in Bergamo.
“The Champions League is a dream,” said Timothy Castagne who scored one of the goals in the Cup win against Juventus, and also inspired a league comeback from three goals down to hold Roma 3-3 in Serie A in January.
“We realised we could fight for fourth place when we completed the comeback against Roma, then beat Juventus in the Coppa Italia.
“Now we’ll try to end on a high.”
Castagne was again on target when Atalanta beat Lazio 3-1 in Serie A earlier this month in the Stadio Olimpico. Lazio also fell 1-0 in Bergamo in the reverse fixture.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side are also on track for a first-ever qualification for the Champions League as they sit fourth in Serie A with two games left to play.
“The Coppa Italia final in Rome will be something extraordinary,” said Dutch midfielder Marten de Roon.
“We will share so many emotions with the fans, with 25,000 following us.
“It’s something very special. If you are so close to winning a trophy, you have to take it.
“I want to bring the cup home also for our fans, who have always supported us and are ready to follow us wherever we go.”
– Best run –
On their return to the north of Italy after beating Lazio, the players were greeted by more than 4,000 fans and fireworks.
“In two weeks we play for everything, of course we want to go to Europe at least.”
Atalanta finished seventh in the league last season.
But this season Gasperini’s side have been boosted by Colombian Duvan Zapata who arrived on loan from Sampdoria, and is their top scorer with 22 league goals this season
“Tactically coach Gian Piero Gasperini is unrivalled and knows how to prepare matches meticulously,” added De Roon.
Atalanta are unbeaten in their last 11 games with eight wins and three draws.
For Simone Insigne’s Lazio the Coppa Italia could be their only way into Europe next season.
The Romans are four points off the Europa League berths with two games left to play, having won just four of their last ten games.
But they have not lost in their last eight Coppa Italia games, their best run in the competition since 1980.
Lazio have won the Coppa Italia six times in their history with their most recent victory in 2013, when they beat city rivals Roma.
They will be counting on top scorer Ciro Immobile to lift them, having scored 14 goals in Serie A this season.
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