Preview: Atalanta BC and Bayer Leverkusen - Team News, Lineups and Prediction

Bayer Leverkusen will face their toughest challenge yet in the Europa League final on Wednesday as they put their impressive 51-game unbeaten streak on the line against Atalanta BC, who are determined to end the German champions’ run.

Both teams meet in Dublin, with Leverkusen aiming for the second part of an extraordinary treble and their Italian opponents looking to claim their first European title.

Preview of the Match

On May 2, 2024, Florian Wirtz from Bayer Leverkusen celebrates his goal against Roma.

When Xabi Alonso became the manager less than two years ago, Die Werkself was struggling in the lower half of the table. However, they have now climbed to the top, easily defeating all of their opponents in the German top division. Their recent win against Augsburg marked the end of a 34-game unbeaten streak in the league.

After being runners-up in the Bundesliga five times, Leverkusen ultimately achieved a total of 90 points, as reported by Maltasport. This put an end to Bayern Munich’s 11-year reign of dominance and allowed Leverkusen to finally claim the Meisterschale.

With their well-regarded head coach leading the way, this team’s offensive prowess has resulted in a total of 135 goals this season across all competitions. Despite their impressive record of only conceding 39 goals, the Rhine club can still add to the already memorable season.

Leverkusen’s goal is to win their second European championship, after their victory in the 1988 UEFA Cup. If they are successful in the Irish capital, they will have a chance at a treble when Alonso and his team face second-tier Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal final just three days later.

Die Werkself have gained a reputation not only for their impressive undefeated streak, but also for their ability to score crucial late goals. Without their relentless determination, their journey in the continental competition could have come to an early end.

In the previous rounds, they were behind 2-0 against Qarabag, a team that was not expected to win, in both legs of the last-16 match. However, they managed to make a comeback and advance to the next round. In their most recent match against Roma in the semi-finals, they surprised their opponents by scoring a goal in the 97th minute, thanks to Josip Stanisic.

In the quarter-finals, Leverkusen defeated the current champions of the Conference League, West Ham United. They had a perfect record of six wins out of six in the group stage, and could potentially become one of only four teams to win the trophy without losing a single game.

On May 9, 2024, Ademola Lookman from Atalanta BC celebrates his goal against Marseille.

After defeating Marseille in the semi-finals, La Dea can now set their sights on winning their first-ever European final. This comes after their successful run in Group D and eliminating the new Portuguese champions Sporting and Premier League powerhouse Liverpool. The Italian team’s dream of claiming glory is now within reach.

Becoming the 11th Italian team to reach a continental final, the Bergamo club has the potential to make history as the first Serie A team to win the Europa League. They must avoid defeat in the final match to achieve this feat.

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Ever since the highly respected coach Gian Piero Gasperini joined Lombardy eight years ago, Atalanta has undergone a remarkable transformation, becoming a regular presence in European competitions. This was highlighted by their impressive achievement of qualifying for the Champions League for three consecutive years.

Despite being a 66-year-old strategist, the coach has not been able to secure any trophies. His team was defeated by Juventus in the Coppa Italia final for the second time in four years, making it his third loss in the final match in Rome.

In Dublin, Gasperini will become the most senior manager to oversee his initial European championship, while the relatively new Alonso is the youngest coach to guide a finalist in a UEFA event since 2012. The strategic clash between these two individuals with starkly different backgrounds is bound to be captivating.

During the second half of the season, Inter, the champions of Serie A, have recorded a higher goal rate compared to other teams. However, Atalanta, known for their attacking style of play, have been more cautious in European competitions. They have only faced an average of 2.8 shots on target per game in the Europa League, which is the lowest among all participating teams.

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The team, La Dea, was able to maintain a clean sheet in their recent game against Roma, securing a crucial win. They followed this up with a 2-0 victory against Lecce, with strikers Charles De Ketelaere and Gianlucca Scamacca scoring goals at Via del Mare. This result not only secured a top-five finish in the league, but also ensured a highly desired return to the Champions League.

With a well-established reputation in Bergamo, if ‘Gasp’ is able to finally shake off the label of an almost-successful coach and lead Atalanta to victory in their first major tournament since 1963 – triumphing over the formidable Leverkusen along the way – it would solidify his position as a legendary figure among the supporters of the Nerazzurri.

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Xabi Alonso, head coach of Bayer Leverkusen, pictured on February 10, 2024

Xabi Alonso has the luxury of choosing from a fully healthy squad, having won the Bundesliga, for the final game. This has led to intense competition for spots on the team.

On Wednesday, Piero Hincapie and Granit Xhaka, two influential players, are expected to make a return to the team. It is uncertain if Victor Boniface or Patrick Schick will lead the attack, or if a ‘false nine’ formation will be utilized.

The Basque manager of Leverkusen is expected to rely on their top player Florian Wirtz who has been carefully managed due to a thigh injury. He made a brief appearance in the recent game against Augsburg and is likely to start in the upcoming match.

At the age of 21, he has achieved a total of 18 goals and 19 assists in various competitions. Additionally, his recent goal against Roma in the semi-finals brings his career tally in the Europa League to 11 goals.

In Dublin, Atalanta should rely on Gianluca Scamacca as their main striker, despite the threats posed by Charles De Ketelaere, Ademola Lookman, and Teun Koopmeiners, who are all part of the team’s lineup.

With only one goal scored in the group stage, the Italian striker has managed to score in every elimination round, with a notable brace in La Dea’s historic victory at Anfield. In total, he has tallied six goals in the Europa League this season.

Despite Emil Holm and Sead Kolasinac returning from injuries, Marten De Roon – an experienced captain – will be unable to play due to a thigh strain sustained during the Coppa Italia final.

The Nerazzurri’s back three will likely consist of Isak Hien, Berat Djimsiti, and either Kolasinac or Giorgio Scalvini as club captain Rafael Toloi is not yet fully fit.

Possible starting lineup for Atalanta BC: Musso, Djimsiti, Hien, Scalvini, Zappacosta, Pasalic, Ederson, Ruggeri, Koopmeiners, De Ketelaere, Scamacca.

Possible starting lineup for Bayer Leverkusen:

Kovar; Tapsoba, Tah, Hincapie; Frimpong, Xhaka, Andrich, Grimaldo; Hofmann, Wirtz; Schick

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Tip: Atalanta BC 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen

With their continued assertion of being among the top club teams in the sport, Leverkusen has the ability to defeat Atalanta’s exciting blend of skill and strength. They display an unwavering determination from defense to offense and never give up, further solidifying their reputation.

Despite this being a devastating loss for La Dea, winning the Europa League title and getting closer to a remarkable treble will set the newly crowned German champions on the path to becoming legendary.

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