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“Playing them is like going to the dentist” — Maurizio Sarri backs Pep Guardiola’s comments about Atalanta

By Ben Green

Published: 13:07, 31 October 2021

Lazio manager Maurizio Sarri has doubled down on Pep Guardiola’s comments about playing Atalanta being a similar experience to going to the dentist.

The former Chelsea boss pitted tactical wits against Gian Piero Gasperini on Saturday afternoon, with his Lazio side conceding at the death to steal a draw from the jaws of victory, drawing 2-2 in Bergamo.

Pedro opened the scoring in the 18th minute before prolific Colombian marksman Duvan Zapata restored parity on the stroke of half time. Ciro Immobile then consolidated his position as the early Capocannoniere leader with his ninth strike of the campaign, before Marten de Roon equalised at the death.

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The shared point ensures Lazio and Atalanta remain outside the Serie A top four in sixth and fifth respectively, but very much in the slipstream of Roma, who currently occupy the final Champions League qualification place.

Before the hard-fought draw at the Gewiss Stadium, Sarri was more than effusive in his praise of Gasperini’s tactical style, agreeing with Guardiola’s assertion that playing Atalanta is a highly stressful experience, which certainly proved the case on Saturday.

“We play the third game in a row with less than 72 hours rest, it hasn’t happened to other teams,” Sarri told reporters in his pre-match press conference.

“We travel to Bergamo to face a strong team. Atalanta are very aggressive, as Guardiola says, it’s like going to the dentist, even if you come out unscathed, you still feel the pain.

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“Atalanta are an example in terms of club’s organization. They’ve made clear choices, they are a source of inspiration for the whole movement.

“However, we are Lazio and we must take a similar path in terms of choices, but different from the technical points of view.”

Sarri’s comments come after Guardiola claimed playing Atalanta — who play Man Utd on Tuesday — was comparable with a trip to the dentist in 2019, after his Manchester City side were held to a 1-1 draw in Milan during their Champions League group-stage campaign.

“All the Italians will tell you that to get four points against them is a big success for us,” said Guardiola in 2019.

“Playing Atlanta is like going to the dentist – it’s really, really tough and we knew that it would be. It was a great performance in every sense.”


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