- Atalanta host Everton in their first European match since the 1990-91 season
- Manager Gian Piero Gasperini expects his side to play with belief against Blues
- Europa League match is being played 120 miles from Atleti Azzurri d’Italia
- Alejandro Gomez admits playing away from home will have quite a lot of impact
Gian Piero Gasperini has warned Everton and Atalanta’s other opponents that the Bergamo club are returning to European football full of confidence.
La Dea begin what is their first continental campaign since 1990-91 when they face Everton on Thursday in their Europa League Group E opener.
They were the surprise package in Italy last term, finishing fourth in Serie A, and Atalanta boss Gasperini is looking forward to the clash with the Toffees.
Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini says his side are in confident mood ahead of Everton
Andreas Cornelius will lead the line against Everton in the Europa League group game
He said: ‘We are confident. We might not bring a name but we had an excellent season last year and we carry a lot of enthusiasm.’
Group E also features France’s Lyon and Apollon Limassol of Cyprus, and Gasperini added: ‘Everton are strong in many aspects and we know it is a tough group.
‘But I think the team is ready to play in this group.’
Thursday’s game is taking place at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia rather than at Atalanta’s Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia home, which is to be redeveloped to make it fit for European competition.
Everton train at the Mapei Stadium where the Europa League tie is being held on Thursday
Andrea Petagna and Jasmin Kurtic celebrate the Serie A victory over Sassuolo at the weekend
Atalanta captain Alejandro Gomez admits playing ‘home’ games away from the usual surroundings will have ‘quite a lot of impact’ for Gasperini’s men, but has also stressed that the team will still be boosted by their ‘special, unique’ supporters.
He said: ‘It will have quite a lot of impact because we know how to play when we play at home, and are strong.
‘But we can use the enthusiasm of our fans. Many will come from Bergamo and they are very special, unique fans.
‘Everton are a team with a lot of tradition and history but we feel we can play against anyone.’