Atalanta president admits his club were 'unfortunate' to draw Liverpool

The route to Dublin has been drawn up. Friday's Europa League draw in Nyon has set the stage for an electrifying quarter-final clash between tournament favourites Liverpool and Italian side Atalanta.

Speaking following the draw, Atalanta president Antonio Percassi, via Calcio Mercato, expressed a mixture of excitement and apprehension about facing Jurgen Klopp's side.

"It wasn't a fortunate draw, but at the same time, we are pleased to play against the strongest teams," Percassi remarked.

Liverpool progressed through their last 16 tie with Czech side Sparta Prague in emphatic fashion, cruising through with an 11-2 aggregate win.

A 'spectacular' atmosphere awaits

Percassi shared his excitement at welcoming the Reds to northern Italy, saying: "For Bergamo, it will be something extraordinary to host Liverpool, which represents one of the greatest clubs in the world."

Reflecting on previous encounters with Liverpool during the 2020-21 Champions League group stage, Percassi acknowledged the missed opportunity due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"Covid prevented our fans from seeing some really top players, but now they can!" Percassi said.

Fighting talk

Percassi went on to express optimism about the upcoming fixture, highlighting Atalanta's 2-0 victory at Anfield during that season.

"The atmosphere created by our fans will surely be spectacular," he added.

"Bergamo is a city famous for its ability to build. Behind the Atalanta project, there is a lot of work on and off the field. For us to play against Liverpool is extraordinary; it is something we have always dreamed of. We hope to experience these nights for many years."

A difficult test

For his part, Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp admitted he hasn't closely monitored Atalanta since their last meeting but nonetheless admitted that he expected a difficult test.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, the German said: "It's now not that I watched them since then 500 times but still the same manager [Gian Piero Gasperini], I'm pretty sure a similar structure – which means uncomfortable to play against, very well organised."

The first leg of the quarter-final tie is scheduled to take place at Anfield on April 11, with the return leg in Italy seven days later.

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