Gian Piero Gasperini: His journey with Atalanta and the Europa League triumph

Gian Piero Gasperini and several Atalanta players parade the Europa League trophy through downtown Bergamo.
Gian Piero Gasperini and several Atalanta players parade the Europa League trophy through downtown Bergamo. / Anadolu/GettyImages

Early Years and Arrival at Atalanta

Gian Piero Gasperini, born on Jan. 26, 1958, in Grugliasco, Italy, began his footballing career as a midfielder. After playing for various Italian clubs, including Juventus, Reggiana, and Palermo, Gasperini transitioned into coaching. He spent his early managerial career with youth teams and lower-division clubs, gaining a reputation for his tactical acumen and innovative approaches.

In June 2016, Atalanta appointed Gasperini as head coach. Atalanta, based in Bergamo, had traditionally been a mid-table Serie A club, occasionally flirting with relegation. The appointment of Gasperini marked a significant turning point.

Tactical Revolution and Rise to Prominence

Gasperini is renowned for his tactical ingenuity, particularly his preference for a 3-4-3 formation. This system emphasizes high pressing, quick transitions, and attacking wing-backs. Under his guidance, Atalanta transformed into one of the most exciting teams in Europe, known for their prolific goal-scoring and entertaining style of play.

1. 2016-2017 Season: Gasperini's first season saw Atalanta finish fourth in Serie A, qualifying for the UEFA Europa League. This achievement was remarkable given the club's limited resources compared to Italy's traditional footballing giants.

2. Subsequent Seasons: Atalanta continued to impress under Gasperini, consistently finishing in the top four of Serie A. The 2018-2019 season was particularly notable, as Atalanta finished third and qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history. Their attacking prowess was evident, with the team scoring 77 goals, the highest in the league that season.

The Europa League Triumph

The culmination of Gasperini's efforts came in the 2023-2024 season, when Atalanta won the UEFA Europa League. This historic achievement was a testament to Gasperini's long-term vision and the club's steady progress under his leadership.

1. Group Stage: Atalanta navigated the group stage with relative ease, showcasing their attacking flair and defensive solidity. They topped their group, setting the stage for a deep run in the knockout phases.

2. Knockout Rounds: Atalanta's journey through the knockout stages was characterized by resilience and tactical mastery. They faced strong opponents, including Sevilla and Bayer Leverkusen, overcoming them with a blend of tactical discipline and attacking verve.

3. Final Match: The Europa League final saw Atalanta face a formidable opponent in Bayer Leverkusen. The match was a thrilling encounter, with Atalanta's dynamic playing style on full display. Gasperini's tactics were spot-on, as his team executed their game plan to perfection, securing a 3-2 victory and lifting their first major European trophy.

Impact and Legacy

Gasperini's success at Atalanta extends beyond trophies and league positions. He has cultivated a culture of attacking football and has developed numerous players who have gone on to achieve great success, both at Atalanta and elsewhere. Players like Alejandro "Papu" Gómez, Josip Iličić, Duván Zapata, Gianluca Scamacca, Teun Koopmeiners, Ademola Lookman flourished under his guidance, becoming key figures in European football.

1. Youth Development: Gasperini's tenure has also been marked by a commitment to youth development. Atalanta's academy, one of the best in Italy, has produced several talents like Alessandro Bastoni, Giorgio Scalvini who have seamlessly integrated into the first team, ensuring a sustainable model for success.

2. Cultural Impact: The success of Atalanta under Gasperini has had a profound impact on the city of Bergamo, providing a source of pride and unity, especially significant given the city's struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic.



Gian Piero Gasperini's era at Atalanta is a remarkable story of transformation and triumph. His innovative tactics, emphasis on youth development, and ability to compete with limited resources have set a new benchmark for what can be achieved in football. The Europa League victory in 2024 stands as a crowning achievement, solidifying his legacy as one of the most influential managers in Atalanta's history and Italian football.