Atalanta v Paris St-Germain – BBC Sport

Champions League: How PSG opponents Atalanta took Europe by storm

Kylian Mbappe could return for Paris St-Germain in Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final against Atalanta.

The France forward, 21, has recovered from an ankle injury and boss Thomas Tuchel says he will feature in Lisbon if “nothing extraordinary happens”.

However, Tuchel did then suggest Mbappe was most likey to be used off the bench against the Italian side.

“We are really pleased to have the possibility of finishing the match with Kylian on the pitch,” said Tuchel.

“That gives Neymar someone who likes playing alongside him.”

World Cup winner Mbappe sprained his ankle during PSG’s French Cup final win over Saint-Etienne on 24 July, but he has recovered in time for the ‘final eight’ stage of the Champions League.

The French champions have not reached the semi-finals of Europe’s elite club competition since the Qatari takeover of the club in 2011.

‘Extra motivation’ for Atalanta

Champions League debutants Atalanta have been the surprise package of this year’s competition but manager Gian Piero Gasperini said the suffering in the club’s home city of Bergamo following the coronavirus outbreak provides “extra motivation” for his side.

“We know the level of expectation that there is around this match, and how much passion there is for Atalanta in Bergamo and the surrounding province,” said Gasperini.

“There is extra motivation for us after what has happened. We have to represent our city in the best possible way and give the people something to smile about.”

Bergamo, near Milan in northern Italy, was one of the worst hit regions in Italy when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak there earlier this year.

At one point, the army was called in to take away coffins because local morgues could not cope with the number of deaths.

Atalanta finished third for the second successive season in Serie A and Gasperini says his players are in “great condition”.

“We have shown that without being a big club or having massive investment it is possible to do well in the Champions League with passion, good football and desire,” said the 62-year-old, who will be without midfielder Josip Ilicic because of personal reasons.

The Slovenian scored all four goals in the 4-3 win at Valencia in the last-16 second leg.

The stats

  • This will be the first competitive game between Atalanta and Paris St-Germain. Atalanta’s only previous encounter with a French club in European competition was against Lyon in the 2017-18 Europa League group stages – the Bergamo side drew 1-1 in France and won 1-0 at home.
  • PSG have never won a game against Italian opposition in the Champions League (D4 L2).
  • PSG have not reached the last four of the competition since the 1994-95 season.
  • The French giants have scored in their past 32 Champions League games, currently the longest run in the competition.
  • Atalanta are the first debutants to reach the quarter-finals of the competition since Leicester City in 2016-17 and the first Italian side to do so since Lazio in the 1999-00 campaign.
  • Atalanta have won their past four Champions League games, the longest current run alongside Bayern Munich.
  • The Serie A side have conceded more goals than any other team left in this season’s competition (16 in eight games).

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