Preview: Atalanta vs Bayer Leverkusen – Team News, Lineups & Prediction

All roads lead to Dublin this Europa League campaign as Atalanta and Bayer Leverkusen face each other in the grand final on Wednesday. Dublin Arena sets the stage for the 15th Europa League showpiece, where the Bergamo outfit bids to become the first Serie A side to lift Europe’s second-most prestigious title in the 21st century.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s European final debutants will be out to make amends for last week’s Coppa Italia heartache against the Bundesliga headline-makers. Dusan Vlahovic denied Atalanta their first piece of silverware in over six decades with an early strike in the Coppa Italia final last Wednesday. 

However, La Dea quickly bounced back with a comfortable 2-0 Serie A triumph at Lecce over the weekend, setting one foot in next season’s Champions League group stages. With three points more than sixth-placed Roma and a game in hand, a fifth-place finish is within striking distance for Atalanta ahead of the final day. 

But all eyes are on the Dublin title-deciding showdown. Atalanta will be out to achieve what Inter and Roma couldn’t in 2019/20 and 2022/23, respectively. Both Italian teams have faltered at the final hurdle, with Europa League specialists Sevilla getting the better of them. 

As a result, the last time a Serie A team won this competition was in 1998/99, highlighting the opportunity for Atalanta to end the long-standing drought and bring the Europa League title back to Italy.

Road to the Final

Atalanta

The Europa League group stages were plain sailing for Atalanta. Paired with Sporting CP, Sturm Graz, and Rakow Czestochowa in Group D, Gasperini’s charges strolled to a top-table finish without defeat, amassing four wins and two draws. In doing so, La Dea netted an average of two goals per game and only conceded four to skip the knockout playoff round.

Destiny had Atalanta facing Ruben Amorim’s crew again in the round of 16, and the outcome was identical. Following a 1-1 first-leg draw in Portugal, the Italians squeezed past Sporting 2-1 in the return fixture in Bergamo to set up a blockbuster quarter-final against Premier League colossi Liverpool.

Expectations were low, with the Reds deemed odds-on to edge out Atalanta and continue their run to the title. However, La Dea upset the apple the cart in the last eight, demolishing Jurgen Klopp’s star-studded squad 3-0 at Anfield before a futile 1-0 home defeat to progress into the semis against the odds.

Marseille did their best to keep the tie competitive, eking out a 1-1 stalemate in the first leg. But Atalanta gave Les Olympiens no chance at the Gewiss Stadium, thrashing them 3-0 to book a first-ever appearance in a major European final. 

Bayer Leverkusen

Atalanta’s impressive group-stage run pales to Leverkusen’s 100% record in Group H. Hacken, Molde, and Qarabag were no match for the new Bundesliga champions as Xabi Alonso’s high-flyers won all six games by a combined score of 19-3, with four of those victories coming via multiple-goal margins. 

Like Atalanta, fate wanted Die Werkself to meet the runners-up from their section in the last-16. Yet, Qarabag gave the undefeated German champions a run for their money this time, forcing them to recover from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 in the first leg in Azerbaijan before taking another two-goal lead at the BayArena. 

Despite being down two goals heading into the last 20 minutes, Leverkusen turned the game on its head to advance into the quarter-finals as 5-4 aggregate victors. Premier League underachievers West Ham fared well in the first leg in Germany before conceding twice beyond the 80th minute to go down 2-0.

A 1-1 second-leg draw meant Leverkusen would face Atalanta’s domestic rivals Roma in the semi-finals. After a 2-0 first-leg win at the Stadio Olimpico, everyone thought the second game would be a mere formality. But Giallorossi grabbed a two-goal lead, only to concede twice in the last 10 minutes in a dramatic 2-2 draw.

Team News

Atalanta vice-captain Marten de Roon suffered a knee injury against Juventus, joining Sead Kolasinac and Emil Holm in the treatment room. Chances are Rafael Toloi will make the cut, but he’ll more likely be on the bench, with Giogio Scalvini the frontrunner to take the Dutchman’s place in the back three.

On the other hand, Victor Boniface’s return from a long-term injury means Leverkusen will touch down in Dublin with the full squad. All eyes will be on teenage prodigy Florian Wurtz and standout winger Jeremie Frimpong, who made the difference against Roma. 

Atalanta vs Bayer Leverkusen Potential Lineups

Atalanta (3-4-2-1): Juan Musso; Berat Djimsiti, Isak Hien, Giorgio Scalvini; Davide Zappacosta, Mario Pasalic, Ederson, Matteo Ruggeri; Teun Koopmeiners, Charles De Ketelaere; Gianluca Scamacca.

Bayer Leverkusen (3-4-2-1): Matej Kovar; Edmond Tapsoba, Jonathan Tah, Piero Hincapie; Jeremie Frimpong, Granit Xhaka, Robert Andrich, Alejandro Grimaldo; Jonas Hofmann, Florian Wirtz; Patrick Schick.

Atalanta vs Bayer Leverkusen Prediction

As much as every Serie A fan would love to see Atalanta become the first side to beat Leverkusen this season, it’s nearly impossible to imagine Die Werkself relenting in their formidable form. Saturday’s 2-1 win against Augsburg rounded off the Germans’ 51-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, making up the all-time record in European football.

However, after making Liverpool look silly in the quarter-finals, there’s nothing this Gasperini team can’t do. Leverkusen are the favorites, but Atalanta carry an air of unpredictability and resilience that could upset the odds again. As lifelong optimists, we back La Dea for success. 

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