Parma, 5 January 2019 – Coach D’Aversa today spoke to the press at Collecchio ahead of Monday’s 15:00 CET kick-off against Atalanta.

Here’s what he had to say:

Cornelius trained today, while Inglese has been working almost completely with the squad for the entire week, even if we monitored his play in the tackle. They are both in contention for tomorrow, although obviously I’ll be taking into consideration their recent recoveries. Roberto has worked more than Andreas from a fitness point of view and is better prepared. Andreas has been given the green light from the medical staff but he’s hardly trained with the team. However, I want to thank them both because they’ve remained here in Parma during the break to continue their recovery, ensuring that they’re ready for this away fixture.

Kulusevski? What happened this week acted as a bit of a distraction from our lack of numbers, however, that’s only normal when a player is signed by a big club. What I would like to say to the fans is that 99 times out of 100, a player would not have returned to Parma in a situation like this. I think that this demonstrates the intelligence and maturity of the player, which is a sign of gratitude to the club, his teammates and the backroom staff.

“It’s highly likely that Pezzella will play from the start – I think that he has real potential in that role. In the past, he’s always been part of a five-man defence so it’s taken time for him to come to grips playing four at the back. However, he has the potential to be a very, very strong player and let’s not forget how young he is. I still have some doubts about tomorrow’s system but what matters is how the players carry it out. I think that we’re starting back in the league against the worst possible opponent – Atalanta. However, we must have the desire to get a result even if we know it won’t be easy.

“Atalanta has scored more goals than anyone else this season, putting five past Milan in their last game. They enjoyed a good first half of the season but they still have the potential to improve. At crucial moments they’ve also had issues in the attack, missing both Muriel and Zapata. They are back to full strength tomorrow. We know the characteristics of this team and they don’t have any fear. They are strong physically, while they can also create play in a determined manner. If you look at some of their key players, such as Ilicic, Malinovskyi, Muriel and Zapata, then we need to make sure we work well as a team, while also doing well in the individual duels. As a whole, I think that they are one of the strongest teams in the league.

“I was counting on the break to regain some of our players, although this didn’t go as planned – even if the staff and players did all they could. Having said that, this team has shown in the past that it can do well in the face of difficulty. We have players who possess different characteristics and we must do well to limit a team scores plenty of goals and builds play well. We must try to restrain them, while also threatening in attack.

“As for the transfer market, the club and our sporting director know what we need. We’re simply focused on the tough match that awaits us tomorrow. It’s always a bit of an unknown after the break, however, we always use it to work hard and make sure that we’re ready for these occasions. We must all be prepared to give 120 per cent tomorrow. 

“As regards Kulusevski, I believe that everyone worked for their own interests and my Club did well. What I would like to highlight more is the fact that this lad has come back to Parma despite his young age: I don’t know how many players would have done the same thing. This should not result in any negative feelings towards the lad. On the contrary, it’s something which should be appreciated even more because he has stated that he wants to prove that he’s worth the money that’s been spent on him by performing well during the second half of the season. He needs to be managed in the right way, he’s a serious professional and has demonstrated this up to now. I’m sure that this will remain the case until the end of the season.

Scozzarella was treated elsewhere and has been back with us this week. Nevertheless, he’s still not fully fit. We all know his worth, the fact that he’s been working with me for three and a half years is an advantage because he knows what I’m asking for in that position. Matteo probably won’t start tomorrow but having him at my disposal is a big thing, even if he can only play for a reduced amount of time.

“Who would I take from Atalanta? Every time I name a player belonging to our opponents they score, so I’m not going to say a name. Atalanta should serve as an example for all “medium-sized” clubs, great work has been done here for many years now. For a club like Parma, Atalanta is an objective to reach. Irrespective of who they play, they can cause problems: they’re a strong side who progressed from their Champions League group and are fifth in Serie A despite having some major absences, especially in the striking department. They’ll do even better during the second half of the season.

“Would I take a draw? Brescia only lost in the 90th minute against a good team in Lazio, who won the Supercoppa Italiana against Juventus. It proves that Serie A is a very difficult league. Historically, teams at the bottom tend to pick up more points during the second half of the season. That said, I would never just aim for a draw because we won’t pick up any points if we go to Bergamo with this thought in our minds. If we head there full of desire and aware of the characteristics of the opposition and play based on this knowledge, we can try to make the most of a few gaps that could open up. We need to understand the kind of game that we need to play and read what is going on during the match, but aiming for a draw isn’t part of my philosophy. And this also applies to the lads because otherwise, they wouldn’t have done what they’ve managed to achieve so far.”