(Reuters) - Atalanta will not alter their attacking philosophy while attempting to overturn a one-goal deficit in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at Real Madrid on Tuesday, coach Gian Piero Gasperini said.
The Italians conceded a late goal to lose the first leg 1-0 in Bergamo but they played most of that match with 10 men after Remo Freuler was sent off in the 17th minute.
Gasperini’s team were unable to fully demonstrate the attacking style they are renowned for during the first leg but the coach intends to throw numbers forward during the must-win match in Spain despite the risks involved.
"Since we started our style has been like this and it has cost us some heavy defeats, also some beatings in the Champions League,” he said.
"But we’ve never considered changing our way of playing and we’ve tried to grow through our ideas. We could park the bus and wait for our chance, but that’s not our philosophy.
"We want to measure ourselves against one of the best teams in the world. For us that’s fundamental to understand what level we’re at,” he added.
Atalanta reached the quarter-finals in their debut Champions League campaign last season, where they lost to eventual runners-up PSG.
Gasperini’s side then defeated Liverpool at Anfield as they finished second in their group to reach the knockout stages this year, behind the English champions but ahead of Ajax and FC Midtjylland.
"It has been a difficult Champions League campaign so far, but we got 11 points to get through a harder group than we had last year," Gasperini said.
"Now we face Real, which is certainly more complicated, but tomorrow’s game can provide a turning point for our season."
Atalanta’s 23-year-old midfielder Matteo Pessina experienced Champions League football for the first time this season and left no doubt about the significance of the tie for him and his club.
"It’s the most important game of the season and in the history of Atalanta,” he said.
"Matches of this level are every player’s dream. Ten years ago my father brought me to see the final between Inter and Bayern, I was here in Madrid and dreamed of being able to play in a final or in the Champions League."
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Pritha Sarkar)