Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos spoke highly of Atalanta ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash between the two sides.
The Italian team shocked both Lyon and Everton in the group stages of the competition and are next up for Dortmund, who dropped down from the Champions League after finishing third in their group, behind Tottenham and Real Madrid.
? Die Abwehr von @Atalanta_BC ist die sechstbeste in der Serie A. Und auch nur sechs Klubs haben mehr Tore geschossen. Wie unangenehm diese Mannschaft zu bespielen ist, erlebte der BVB bereits in der Vorbereitung. ? https://t.co/lQSYVU26XB pic.twitter.com/C7F1YECqp3
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) February 13, 2018
"I've been here in Germany for seven years," Sokratis told La Gazzetta dello Sport, "but I have not forgotten what I learned in Serie A, especially at Genoa with [current Atalanta manager Gian Piero] Gasperini when I was 20.
"I follow Serie A on TV and Atalanta are what's good in that league, they are compact, strong and dangerous on the wings and from set pieces.
"Everybody thinks that we are the favourites for the match, but I think that it will be a close game, with equal chances for both sides."
The Greek defender, 29, spent two seasons in Italy with Genoa before moving to Werder Bremen in Germany, via AC Milan.
He has made over 100 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund in five seasons at the club, but was asked about a possible return to Serie A.
"I'm good here at Borussia," Papastathopoulos added. "I have another year left on my contract and the club wants to open talks over an extension. I'm fine with that but my focus right now is on doing my best to achieve our seasonal goals with Borussia."