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Atalanta coach furious after leading scorer injured in Colombia friendly

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Atalanta coach furious after leading scorer injured in Colombia friendly
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - International Friendly - Chile v Colombia - Estadio Jose Rico Perez, Alicante, Spain - October 12, 2019 Colombia's Duvan Zapata REUTERS/Javier Barbancho   -   Copyright  Javier Barbancho(Reuters)
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MILAN (Reuters) – Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini has labelled international friendlies as useless after leading scorer Duvan Zapata was injured playing for Colombia one week ago.

Zapata is expected to be out for three weeks, including next week’s Champions League match at Manchester City, with an adductor strain which forced him out of the 0-0 draw against Chile, played in Alicante, Spain, last Saturday.

“I reacted with an expletive,” Gasperini told Corriere dello Sport in an interview published Friday.

“It is useless to go around the world and play friendlies with no meaning; the players are subjected to a whirlwind tour of 12 to 13 days where there is nothing at stake. And then we complain that the number of injuries increases.”

“Some matches are not watched by anyone, they are useless from both a technical-tactical point of view and from an entertainment point of view,” added Gasperini, who has taken Atalanta into the Champions League for the first time.

He also complained that there were international breaks in September, October and November and suggested there should be a single, long window for internationals instead.

“We hope that this mess caused by the national teams is ended; the championship cannot be stopped three times in three months,” he said. “At this point, it is better to concentrate the challenges of the national teams into a single break.”

Zapata was Atalanta’s leading scorer last season with 28 goals in all competitions and has already hit seven in nine games this term.

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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