Why Atalanta played at San Siro against Valencia
Italian club Atalanta have played their maiden Champions League knock-out home match against Valencia at the San Siro stadium, 60 kilometres away from their official home ground Stadio Atleti Azzuri D'Italia. They defeated the Spanish club by a resounding 4-1 margin in the match and will go through to the next round if they can defend their lead at the Mestalla in the second leg.
Atalanta have played their European games at MAPEI stadium since 2017-18 season because the capacity of the Atleti Azzuri D'Italia was not enough to meet the UEFA standards. However, UEFA have permitted them to host the matches in their home ground this season, but the club has decided to play at San Siro, Inter's home stadium.
It is primarily because their stadium is under construction and would be able to hold only 16000 at the present condition. But Atalanta want to make the most of the "home advantage". Atalanta have recorded attendances of 26000 against Shakhtar Donetsk, 34000 against Manchester City and 28000 against Dynamo Zagreb in the group stage and a saw 40000 people attending their win against Valencia.
It was a historic occasion for the club from Bergamo as they played and won in the knock-out stages of the Champions League for the first time since their inception in 1907 thanks to a brace from Hans Hateboer along with goals from Josep Ilicic and Remo Freuler. The club did manage to play in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup in 1990-91 season where they were handed a defeat by Interzionale, the original occupants of the San Siro. They have also become the first club in the history of the competition to play in the round of 16 after losing the opening three matches in the competition.
Feature image courtesy: AFP/ Vincenzo Pinto