Bayer Leverkusen will play Atalanta in UEL finals

Atalanta BC will try to finally stop the German champions, Bayer Leverkusen, in their Europa League final on Wednesday. The team has gone 51 games without losing

(Football news) Leverkusen will attempt to complete the second leg of an amazing treble, while their Italian colleagues will look to win a European trophy for the first time ever when the two teams meet in Dublin.

when being cruelly dubbed “Neverkusen” when their 2001–02 squad placed second in the Bundesliga, DFB–Pokal, and Champions League, Bayer Leverkusen has this year started to remarkably defy that unwelcome moniker.

After Xabi Alonso took over less than two years ago, Die Werkself struggled in the lower half of the table. However, since then, they have ascended to the top and are now unstoppable in the German top flight. Last week’s victory over Augsburg brought their 34-game league campaign to a close. 

Previously five-time Bundesliga runners-up, Leverkusen ultimately finished with 90 points on the board, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year reign of dominance and finally getting their hands on the Meisterschale.

A fluent attacking force under their highly-rated head coach, they have racked up 135 goals in all competitions this term, while conceding only 39 – yet the Rhine club can still embellish what will already go down as an historic season.

Leverkusen are looking to lift their second European trophy, following the 1988 UEFA Cup, and should they succeed in the Irish capital, then a treble will be up for grabs when Alonso and co take on second-tier Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal final three days later.

In addition to an uncanny knack for staying undefeated, Die Werkself have become renowned for scoring a series of crucial late goals, and their continental adventure could have ended much earlier if it were not for a never-say-die spirit.

They trailed unfancied Qarabag 2-0 in both last-16 legs, only to fight back and progress, before stunning semi-final opponents Roma earlier this month, when Josip Stanisic supplied a 97th-minute strike to cap their comeback.

Leverkusen also overcame reigning Conference League champions West Ham United in the quarter-finals, and having previously cruised through the group stage with a flawless record of six wins from six, they could now become just the fourth team to lift the trophy unbeaten.

Atalanta’s last meeting with Leverkusen came in the 2021-22 Europa League, when they won 3-2 at home before losing by a single goal one week later in Germany – but the stakes will be far higher on Wednesday evening.

Having seen off Marseille in the semis, after topping Group D and then eliminating new Portuguese champions Sporting and Premier League giants Liverpool, La Dea can dream of claiming glory in a first-ever European final.

Now the 11th different Italian team to reach a continental decider, the Bergamo club could also become the first Serie A side to win the Europa League – if they can avoid falling at the final hurdle.

Since revered coach Gian Piero Gasperini’s arrived in Lombardy eight years ago, Atalanta have been transformed into regulars on the European stage, once managing a remarkable run of three Champions League qualifications in a row.

However, the 66-year-old tactician has yet to lift silverware, with his team having recently lost the Coppa Italia final to Juventus for a second time in four years, marking his third defeat overall in the cup’s Rome finale.

Gasperini will walk out in Dublin as the oldest manager to take charge of his first European final, while relative newcomer Alonso is the youngest coach to lead a UEFA finalist since 2012 – the tactical battle between two very different men is sure to be fascinating.

While only Serie A champions Inter have posted a higher goals rate during the second half of the season, free-flowing Atalanta have proved rather more circumspect in continental competition, facing only 2.8 shots on target per game in the Europa League so far – the lowest ratio of any side to take part.

Last Saturday, La Dea defeated Lecce 2-0 after securing a crucial victory against Roma. Forwards Charles De Ketelaere and Gianlucca Scamacca scored goals at Via del Mare to secure a top-five finish and a much-needed Champions League return. La Dea maintained another clean sheet during this performance.

Already a cherished figure in Bergamo, “Gasp” would become an all-time great in the eyes of Nerazzurri supporters if he could now shrug off the nickname “near-man” and assist Atalanta in winning their first major trophy since 1963, defeating outstanding Leverkusen along the way.

Also read: Manchester United will need to pay £80m for their top target


Share The Article:

Leave A Reply

Related news