Catch all the action as Atalanta takes on Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League final tonight

Europa League


Atalanta are set to face Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League final tonight at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

 Europa League

Leverkusen aim to maintain their remarkable unbeaten run this season as they chase a second trophy, having already secured the Bundesliga title. Xabi Alonso’s squad has only two matches left this season, including the Europa League final, and could finish the campaign undefeated. Their other remaining fixture is the German Cup final, putting them on the brink of a potential treble..


However, Atalanta are in a good run of form, having gone unbeaten in their last four matches since their 1-0 loss to Juventus in the Coppa Italia final. They have won their last six Serie A games and comfortably defeated Marseille 4-1 on aggregate in the Europa League semi-finals. Additionally, Italy’s strong performance in this year’s European competitions has ensured that Atalanta, currently fifth in their domestic league, have already secured a spot in next year’s Champions League. This means they face no extra pressure to win tonight’s final.

 Europa League

Alonso, the Bayer Leverkusen coach, shared his thoughts ahead of the Europa League final, emphasizing the team’s motivation following last season’s semifinal disappointment: “Losing in last season’s semifinal is a huge motivation; we have already spoken about how things felt last season. We were very close to the final. We have harnessed this disappointment to our benefit. When you go to the final you don’t go there to make up the numbers, you go to win it.

We will try and make one last effort. Our focus has been preparing the game; we haven’t changed anything. We have played 51 games this year, so we have talked a lot, and it’s great that the players understand the different situation of the preparations. Now the task is for us to win these next two games [for an unbeaten season].”


Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso acknowledged Atalanta’s clear identity under Gian Piero Gasperini over the past five years: “We know that for the last five years Atalanta have had a very clear identity under Gian Piero Gasperini. We are very familiar with the team but this is a team that continues to progress and evolve.

We have played against similar teams in Germany but what matters above all tomorrow is mentality. We have a game plan but the players still have that wonderful atmosphere from the title celebrations on Saturday and we want to tap into that.”


In response, Gasperini recognized Leverkusen’s strengths, describing them as a complete and versatile team: “Leverkusen are a complete team; extremely organised. They are versatile, they can defend and recover the ball well. The results they have achieved this season are not an accident. Certainly, small details can make the difference in a final. We have to respect them and try to adapt quickly to the opponents we are facing.”


Gasperini expressed confidence in Atalanta’s preparation and the team’s psychological and physical condition: “We believe that we have prepared everything we had to prepare so we are just eager to play and we have to find the right level of calmness to spend the next 24 hours knowing that we have done everything we had to do. Gianlucca Scamacca has improved drastically in recent months, not only in terms of goals but also in terms of performances.

We certainly missed him in the Coppa Italia final against Juventus. I’m glad we will have all our attackers available tomorrow. I think we are in the best possible condition in a psychological and physical sense. I’m very sad about Marten de Roon’s absence, first of all because he deserved to play in this game, and then because he is a key player for us.

But I think we are in a very good condition otherwise. We are aware that we are facing a great team. We know that they are undefeated and we know that they have had an amazing season. Our journey, however, was also very good as we beat very strong teams to reach the final and we also have belief.”


Shay Given, former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper, emphasized the significance of Atalanta’s victory over Liverpool in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, highlighting their prowess ahead of tonight’s match.


He remarked, “Atalanta’s standout performance would definitely be Liverpool in the quarter-finals at Anfield. I was working that night for TV and the score kept popping up, and I was thinking, ‘That can’t be right – they must have got it the wrong way round.’ Everyone around Europe took notice of that result. Leverkusen will probably analyze that game a lot because they were so good on the night at Anfield and they could have scored more.”


Robert Pirès, the renowned former Arsenal and France midfielder, has shared his insights ahead of tonight’s match, highlighting Granit Xhaka as a player to watch.


Pirès remarked, “Granit Xhaka is very important for Leverkusen; he has played very well and provides a good balance for the team. He has a lot of experience and that’s why Xabi Alonso wanted to get him from Arsenal.”


Xhaka, who joined the German side after departing Arsenal last summer, will be playing in his second Europa League final. Reflecting on his previous loss in the 2019 final with Arsenal, he expressed his determination to seize the opportunity this time: “You always get a second chance in life. This time, I want to make the most of it.”


Tonight, the teams are vying for the prestigious Europa League trophy.

Standing at 65cm tall and weighing 15kg, the trophy is a magnificent sight. Crafted by the Bertoni workshop in Milan, it features a silver cup resting on a yellow marble plinth. At first glance, it appears as though a group of players are competing for the ball, but in reality, they are supporting the octagonal cup adorned with the UEFA emblem.


Xabi Alonso, the coach of Leverkusen, emphasized the importance of mentality ahead of the final, acknowledging Atalanta’s evolving nature. He highlighted the team’s game plan and the positive energy from recent celebrations as crucial factors.


Gian Piero Gasperini, Atalanta’s coach, expressed confidence in their preparation and readiness for the final. He recognized Leverkusen’s unbeaten record and impressive season but emphasized the significance of small details in determining the outcome. Gasperini stressed the need for adaptability against their formidable opponents.


As Xabi Alonso stepped foot in Dublin, he couldn’t escape the question of returning to a place where he once came as a teenager to learn English. This personal connection adds depth to his journey, which now finds him on the brink of football history with Bayer Leverkusen.

Alonso’s leadership has propelled the team to the cusp of perfection, with an unbeaten run in the Europa League final against Atalanta, potentially adding to their unbeaten league campaign. Another opportunity awaits in the DFB-Pokal final against Kaiserslautern, offering the chance for an unprecedented unbeaten treble—a feat that would rival some of football’s greatest achievements.

Alonso’s accomplishments with Leverkusen are already remarkable, akin to Sir Alex Ferguson’s early triumphs with Aberdeen and Jose Mourinho’s Champions League victory with FC Porto. Denying perennial champions Bayern Munich the Bundesliga title, especially after their substantial investment in players like Harry Kane, is a testament to Leverkusen’s transformation from perpetual underdogs to formidable contenders.

Their invincible season is not just about statistical dominance but also the emotional resonance of numerous late comebacks and dramatic victories—a vintage display of footballing excellence.


The Europa League final presents an opportunity for Leverkusen to cement their legacy as they square off against Atalanta, with Xabi Alonso at the helm. For Alonso, this match represents more than just a chance to secure another trophy—it’s a shot at etching his name into footballing history by completing an unbeaten treble. Should Leverkusen emerge victorious, Alonso will stand on the precipice of one of football’s most illustrious managerial achievements, a testament to his leadership and tactical acumen.



Europa League

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