Koeman: 'Atalanta tough to beat'

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It kicks off at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio-Emilia, which usually hosts Sassuolo, on Thursday at 18.00 United Kingdom time (17.00 GMT).

"We will try to dominate the game - our intention is to play offensive football, to create opportunities, to score and we need to counter the strengths of Atalanta". We might not bring a name but we had an excellent season previous year and we carry a lot of enthusiasm'.

Everton winger Nikola Vlasic has admitted that he is excited by the challenge of playing in the Europa League this season.

I take the Europa League really seriously.

"I am the manager and I take this competition really seriously".

Group E also features France's Lyon and Apollon Limassol of Cyprus, and Gasperini added: 'Everton are strong in many aspects and we know it is a tough group.

'After last weekend, we need to react, ' said the Dutchman. "You can rotate for several reasons but, like always, we will start with a strong team".

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Atalanta are back in Europe after nearly 30 years, having surprisingly finished fourth in Serie A last season.

"I watched these players before on television and now I'm out on the pitch with them".

"They lost some players and signed some".

Koeman, who has steered Everton past Slovakia's Ruzomberok and Croatia's Hajduk Split in qualifying, said the club must prepare for a long journey in Europe's second-tier competition after a three-year absence.

"If you lose the game, you get another opportunity to put it right. Let's hope the journey takes us a long way in Europe, but we have to fight for it".

They were the surprise package in Italy last term, finishing fourth in Serie A, and Atalanta boss Gasperini is looking forward to the clash with the Toffees.

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