Europe & Conference League: De Rossi, Gasperini Shine

Photo of Daniel De Rossi shine at Europe & Conference League.

In European tournaments, Atalanta impresses while Milan falls short. Gian Piero Gasperini and Daniele De Rossi deserve applause for their strategic prowess. However, Stefano Pioli faces uncertainty as Rafael Leao’s inconsistency affects their fate. Roberto Beccantini’s European roundup highlights Roma, Atalanta, and Fiorentina advancing to the semi-finals and securing five spots in the revamped Champions League, which bids farewell to the group stage.

Despite Real Madrid‘s resurgence against Manchester City, Atalanta’s brilliance shines while Milan’s challenges persist. Let’s raise a glass to Gasperini and De Rossi as Pioli navigates choppy waters. Now, onto the assessments.

Europa League: Roma 2-1 Milan in Quarter-Finals, Second Leg (Aggregate 3-1)

Roma exhibited determination and resilience reminiscent of their performance in the first leg. The significance of De Rossi contribution was underscored, a fact well understood by the Friedkin family. Mancini’s exceptional control and dedication, particularly to Mattia Giani, continued to impress. Dybala’s remarkable left-footed goal, assisted by Lukaku’s impactful play, left viewers enthralled.

Despite Celik’s expulsion early in the game, Roma adeptly adapted their strategy. From substitutes Abraham and Llorente to players like El Shaarawy and Smalling, the team demonstrated remarkable hunger and determination. While Svilar’s saves were noteworthy, they were more impressive than miraculous.

Loftus-Cheek’s pivotal cross sparked discussions, yet it was the cohesive teamwork between San Siro and the Olimpico that truly shone, enabling the team to exceed their limitations, a feat epitomized by DDR. However, the absence of Cristante, the team’s defensive linchpin, was palpable.

Milan 4. Tomori’s presence removed a potential excuse from the equation. Despite falling behind by two goals within the first 31 minutes, Celik’s absence failed to ignite any significant reaction. Loftus-Cheek’s shot hitting the woodwork didn’t turn the tide as expected but rather felt like a missed opportunity.

Milan appeared weaker and less coordinated, a stark contrast to their performance just a week ago. Pioli appeared to lack authority, unable to steer the team’s course during the game, influence the evolving dynamics (as evident from Musah’s swift impact), or even maintain morale within the dressing room, irrespective of the stakes – whether it’s a European tie or the impending derby against city rivals (on Monday).

The strikers couldn’t lift the team’s performance, and Gabbia’s goal seemed more like a stroke of luck than a display of skill. The once dominant left flank only sporadically showed sparks, with Theo Hernandez’s contributions resembling mere flickers and Leao’s influence restricted to occasional flashes of brilliance.

With hopes of winning the Scudetto dashed, Milan now focuses on securing a spot in the Champions League, while accepting the absence of both the Italian Cup and Europa League. In this context, Ibrahimovic’s stern demeanor encapsulates the essence of the season more profoundly than any words spoken at Milanello.

Atalanta-Liverpool: Europa League QF Second Leg

ATALANTA 9. Despite Salah’s penalty, the result remains unchanged. The resilience displayed surpasses the deficit, mitigates the defeat, and recognizes the collective effort. Remarkable. Monumental. Atalanta takes the lead, hosting Liverpool at home.

It’s been since 1988 (during the Cup Winners’ Cup, under coach Mondonico) that Bergamo hasn’t advanced to a European semi-final. Let’s pay tribute to Gasperini for this achievement. The initial setback has actually contributed to the team’s maturity.

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There’s no fear or anxiety; they hit the ground running and applied relentless pressure. With intense pace and aggressive pressing, Liverpool struggled to breach Musso’s defenses. Gasperini and Klopp’s embrace signifies the end of the ordeal with dignity. Reflecting on Andrea Agnelli’s regrettable comment: “I respect Atalanta, but is it right that they are in the Champions League?” This was said back in March 2020, though.

Fiorentina 2-0 Plzen: Conference League Quarter-Finals

What began as a dull and uneventful match turned into a demanding uphill battle due to missed opportunities. Despite facing unfortunate luck, such as Belotti’s shot hitting the post and Kouamé’s attempt striking the crossbar (with Martinez Quarta also hitting the woodwork late in the game), credit is due to Jedlicka for his impressive reflexes and saves.

The momentum shifted with Cadu’s red card (67′) after VAR review. The Czech defense proved resilient, holding a high line and frequently matching Fiorentina’s attacking numbers. While Fiorentina initially showed vigor, their performance gradually became disjointed and chaotic.

Italiano’s substitutions injected fresh energy, with Nico Gonzalez and Biraghi scoring crucial goals in extra time to avoid a penalty shootout. The takeaway is that, despite respectable predictions, the team expended too much effort to secure the victory.


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