With a 3-1 aggregate victory against Marseille, Atalanta secured a place in the Europa League final. Their moment to compete for international glory has finally come. The Serie A outfit will now face off against the formidable Bayer Leverkusen at the Aviva Stadium.

In the realm of Italian soccer, the notion of a managerial reign akin to Sir Alex Ferguson’s at Manchester United or Jurgen Klopp’s at Liverpool seemed far-fetched. Yet, Gian Piero Gasperini has defied expectations, embodying the ethos of Atalanta in a manner reminiscent of these iconic figures.

The symbiotic relationship between Gasperini and the club blurs the lines between his influence and the club’s intrinsic values. It has made the idea of his departure from Bergamo unfathomable.

Inspiration to many in Italy

Gasperini‘s journey with Atalanta began with adversity, marked by a string of early losses. However, the club’s support and Gasperini’s tenacity led to unprecedented success, including a historic Europa League Final appearance.

At the heart of Atalanta’s achievements lies their renowned youth academy. Thus, players like Matteo Ruggeri emerge as a testament to their commitment to nurturing talent internally; rather than treating them as commodities for transfer dealings.

The Atalanta model stands as a beacon of sustainability in an era where many clubs prioritize short-term gains. By focusing on developing and then selling players at significant profits, such as El Bilal Toure and Luis Muriel, Atalanta perpetuates a cycle of reinvestment that strengthens the club’s foundation.

Gasperini’s tactical ingenuity has shaped Atalanta’s distinctive playing style. However, he has also influenced other coaches and teams, including Inter’s Scudetto-winning side under Simone Inzaghi.

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What did Gian Piero Gasperini say?

In the coach’s eyes, Atalanta embodies the essence of meritocracy soccer; a stark contrast to the elitism threatened by ventures like the European Super League. He envisions Atalanta as a blueprint for Italian soccer’s future, where success is built on ideas, identity, and stability rather than exorbitant budgets.

“We are playing many games, it is not easy to always play well, and in some of those matches we struggle, but it was a fine victory”, Gasperini told the media. “I already said when there is a whole city embracing us, the players feel that energy and that emotion. It was a special match and they played it the best way.

“I think the Final is going to be a historic occasion and for a club like ours it’s truly incredible, but this bodes well for everyone. Statistics seem important, it feels necessary to set up a European Super League, but the example set by Atalanta can give hope.

“Football is a meritocracy and that is what makes the game beautiful, not because you inherit some genetic rights through your lineage.”

A UEFA competition final was a first for La Dea. The first leg’s creditable 1-1 tie at the Stade Velodrome, nevertheless, removed any serious doubt. Before facing Olympique Marseille in the Europa League semi-finals, the Italians had already beaten Sporting twice, and Liverpool.