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Champions League: Josip Ilicic's return to form, before facing Manchester United


Last Sunday against Empoli, Josip Ilicic signed a double before returning to the Mancunian club in the Champions League this Wednesday evening.

As Atalanta Bergamo celebrated its 114th anniversary in the match against Empoli, Josip Ilicic left his mark on the game. Established for the third time this season in the league by his coach Gian Piero Gasperini, the Slovenian international distinguished himself by registering two achievements in the space of a quarter of an hour, thus allowing his goal counter in Serie A to be unlocked. (he had not scored in the league since April 11, 2021 against Fiorentina, Editor's note). In the 11th minute of the game, the Slovenian player took advantage of a poor recovery from the defense to serve left side Mario Pasalic. This one puts the ball back in the axis to Ilicic, who finishes the action of a flat of the foot in the empty goal. Shortly before the half hour of play, at the 26th minute,the Slovenian left-hander does not miss the opportunity to double the bet after a one-two with his Colombian teammate Luis Muriel. Josip Ilicic could even have afforded his first hat-trick of the season from the penalty spot 20 minutes from the end of the game.

To discover

  • Champions League fixtures and results

  • Champions League standings

A successful international truce

Before reuniting with his Bergamo teammates, Josip Ilicic played both qualifying matches for the 2024 World Cup with Slovenia. Results of the international break: 3 goals in 2 games. During the first meeting against Malta on October 8, he scored two goals and allowed his team to win 4 goals to 0. The second match was not the same fate since on October 11, his team s 'is inclined 2 goals to 1 against the Russians. But that didn't stop him from scoring just before half-time. These three achievements in the national team allow him to become the top Slovenian scorer in activity. At the same time, he becomes the third highest scorer in the history of Slovenia with 16 goals behind Novakovic (32 goals) and Zahovic (34 goals).

Key element of Atalanta Bergamo in the Champions League

Able to evolve alone at the forefront of the attack or behind to support South American strikers Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata, Josip Ilicic is an important player in the offensive system of the Italian team.

From the height of its 1m90, Slovene can be used as a point of support.

When he is in good shape, he allows his team to go far on the European stage.

Witness the successful campaign during the 2019-2020 season when Atalanta reached the quarter-finals before losing to Paris Saint-Germain in Lisbon.

Josip Ilicic had not taken part in the match due to a muscle injury that took him away from the field for three months.

A psychologically feverish player

During the Covid-19 epidemic, Josip Ilicic experienced depression closely linked to the events in Bergamo.

This episode happened shortly after his injury in mid-July 2020. According to the Italian daily

Corriere dello Sport

, the player then returned to his country to rest.

Despite his psychological worries, the 33-year-old Slovenian player seems to have regained his form a few hours before the Champions League match between his team of Atalanta Bergamo and Manchester United led by Cristiano Ronaldo.

It remains to be seen if Josip Ilicic will confirm his return to form at the theater of dreams of Old Trafford.

Source: lefigaro

All sports articles on 2021-10-20

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