Like Barca without Messi, Juve without Ronaldo - Ilicic out of Atalanta's PSG showdown

By Sports Desk August 04, 2020

Josip Ilicic is out of Atalanta's Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain, with head coach Gian Piero Gasperini conceding the Slovenia international is unlikely to play a part if the Serie A side progress in the tournament. 

Ilicic was Atalanta's hero in their last-16 encounter against Valencia, following a superb finish in a 4-1 first-leg victory at San Siro by scoring all four in a 4-3 triumph at the Mestalla. 

The 32-year-old missed La Dea's final six matches of the Serie A campaign, having returned to his homeland for personal reasons and Gasperini is planning for the immediate future without him. 

"He is surrounded by a lot of affection, there are those situations that can happen to anyone when you least expect it," the Atalanta boss told Rai Radio 1. 

"Precisely for this reason we are all helping him. Objectively it is difficult for him to return to the Champions League, the player has been standing [still] for a long time. 

"It would already be nice to see him again for the next season."             

PSG midfielder Marco Verratti believes Atalanta without Ilicic is akin to taking Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo out of their respective teams. 

Nevertheless, he knows Thomas Tuchel's side face a tall order against free-scoring opponents who finished third in Serie A for a second consecutive season. 

"It weighs a lot for them, as Messi's absence from Barcelona or Ronaldo's from Juventus can weigh," Italy international Verratti told Gazzetta dello Sport. 

"But even without him, Atalanta have continued to win and it's all thanks to Gasperini's work." 

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