Champions League: No Gasperini complacency as Atalanta prepares for understrength Valencia

Valencia is missing a host of key men, including Ezequiel Garay and Rodrigo Moreno, but Gian Piero Gasperini is not going to let Atalanta take it easy.

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini is not getting carried away but hopes to be able to seize the initiative in the opening encounter.   -  Getty Images

Gian Piero Gasperini will not allow Atalanta to become complacent as its prepares to face Valencia in the last 16 of the Champions League, despite selection concerns for the La Liga side.

Atalanta recovered from three straight defeats at the start of its debut campaign in Europe's elite club competition to sensationally progress through the group stage.

The entertaining Serie A outfit now appears to have a great opportunity to make the quarterfinals after being granted a kinder draw against Valencia.

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The first leg takes place at San Siro on Wednesday, and Alessandro Florenzi, Ezequiel Garay, Gabriel and Rodrigo Moreno are among the players missing from the Valencia squad.

Gasperini is not getting carried away but hopes to be able to seize the initiative in the opening encounter.

"It must be the same Atalanta as always," he told a news conference. "We must be free, knowing that just being here is already a great success. Now, we must play our best.

"The game against Roma on Saturday [a 2-1 win] was decisive but then there are another 14 games [in Serie A].

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"We have played many important games now over the years, from the Europa League to Shakhtar [Donetsk in the Champions League group stage], where we were through or we were out. We must use this experience.

"We know we are facing a team of enormous quality and must be ready from the beginning. I would be very happy to go to Mestalla in the lead.

"It is fine to be confident, but we will need a really important performance to get through this round."

He added: "Despite the absentees, Valencia will play with 11, just like us. We must be careful talking about this. They won at Ajax and Chelsea and came first in their group."

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Valencia coach Albert Celades is confident the players available to him can still pose a threat.

"Unfortunately, we are used to these things [injuries]," he said. "I feel sorry for those who stayed at home, who can't play at San Siro in the last 16 of the Champions League.

"I'm very happy for those who are playing and sorry for those who stayed at home, but we have to get used to this situation. We still have a great team available from the bench.

"We have to play against a very offensive team, with the best attack in Serie A. Their season has been impressive - they have a lot of fun.

"Regardless of injuries, we will manage the team and we try to compete to the maximum."

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