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Bayer Leverkusen vs Atalanta – Route to the 2024 Europa League final

Dublin Arena will host the 2023/24 Europa League title showpiece between European final debutants Atalanta and headline-grabbing Bayer Leverkusen. 

The game, scheduled for Wednesday, May 22, kicks off at 8.00 pm (BST).

It’s the first of the three UEFA finals in less than a fortnight, but it’s not the first Europa League encounter between the finalists, as Atalanta and Leverkusen met in the 2020/21 round of 16.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side dispatched Die Werkself that time, winning both legs by a single-goal margin, and will hope to replicate that feat this midweek.

However, Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen team is incomparable to the one La Dea crashed out of Europe two years ago.

Where to watch the Europa League final on TV?

Fans in the United Kingdom can watch the Europa League final on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Ultimate, while CBS Sports Network has the broadcast rights in the United States.

If you want to watch the game, check out the Europa League broadcast partners on UEFA’s official website or find live Europa League streams here.

Atalanta’s route to the final

Europa League Group D proved plain sailing for Atalanta. 


La Dea steamrolled to a top-table finish in a section featuring Rakow Czestochowa, Sporting CP and Sturm Graz without losing a game, claiming four wins and two draws. 

In doing so, Gasperini’s side averaged two goals per game and only conceded four times, leaving runners-up Sporting three points behind to jump the knockout play-off round. 

Fate wanted Atalanta to square off against Ruben Amorim’s side again in the round of 16, and the outcome was the same. 

After a 1-1 first-leg draw in Lisbon, the Italians edged Sporting out 2-1 in the return fixture at home to set up a mouth-watering quarter-final tie against Liverpool.

Many people saw it as the end of the road for Gasperini’s charges, but a thumping 3-0 first-leg win at Anfield blew the Reds out of the water.

Despite a futile 1-0 win in Bergamo, Liverpool waved goodbye to Europe in the last four, catapulting Atalanta to the semi-finals, where they faced Marseille. 

The tie was evenly poised following a 1-1 stalemate in France before La Dea brushed the Ligue 1 outfit aside with a scintillating 3-0 home triumph to advance into their first European final.

Bayer Leverkusen’s route to the final

Atalanta did dominate their group, but Leverkusen swept the floor with sub-par Molde, Hacken and Qarabag in Group H. 

They won all six group-stage games by an aggregate score of 19-3, with four of those six victories coming by multi-goal margins. 

Like their upcoming opponents, Die Werkself skipped the knockout play-off round before taking on the runners-up of their group in the round of 16.

But while Atalanta eased past Sporting, Leverkusen’s last-16 tie against Qarabag was anything but straightforward, requiring Alonso’s side to pull back a two-goal deficit in both legs. 

After a dramatic 2-2 draw in Azerbaijan, the Germans were 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go but scored three unanswered goals down the final stretch to progress as 5-4 aggregate winners.

Premier League strugglers West Ham United barely made Leverkusen sweat in the quarter-finals, even though the Germans had to score twice beyond the 80th minute to win the first leg 2-0.

However, Leverkusen outclassed David Moyes’ troops in Germany, rendering a 1-1 second-leg draw in London irrelevant. 

By the time their semi-final tie against Roma kicked off in early May, Alonso’s side already had their first Bundesliga title in the bag and were among Europe’s fiercest sides.

They confirmed that stature with a 2-0 triumph at the Stadio Olimpico before pulling off another stunning late comeback to draw 2-2 at home in the second leg. 

As a result, they’ll appear in their first Europa League final since hoisting the trophy in 1987/88. 

Form Guide

Atalanta

Atalanta already lost one final last weekend, succumbing to a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat to Juventus in the Coppa Italia title decider. 

However, that result remains the only blemish on an otherwise superb run of just one loss across their last nine competitive outings (W7, D1, L1), bookended by a 2-0 win at Lecce on Saturday.

With a game in hand and a three-point lead on sixth-placed Roma, La Dea are almost on the verge of securing Champions League qualification through a top-five finish in Serie A.

Form (all competitions, most recent first): WLWWWDWWWL.

Where they stand: fifth in Serie A, Coppa Italia runners-up.

Bayer Leverkusen

Saturday’s 2-1 home league triumph against Augsburg saw the new Bundesliga champions become the first side in the competition’s history to lift the crown without losing a single game

Their imperious form stretches beyond the German borders and forms an all-time European record for the most consecutive unbeaten matches across all competitions. 

Alonso’s side head into the final undefeated in 51 matches and are widely considered odds-on favourites to take home Europe’s second-most prestigious trophy for the second time.

Form (all competitions, most recent first): WLWWWDWWWL.

Where they stand: Bundesliga champions A, DFB-Pokal finalists. 

Injuries and suspensions

Atalanta’s vice-captain Marten de Roon has joined Emil Holm and Sead Kolasinac on the sidelines after picking up a knee injury against Juventus.

On the bright side, skipper Rafael Toloi is back from a lengthy spell in the treatment room and could take De Roon’s place in the back three.

As for Leverkusen, Victor Boniface’s return from a long-term injury towards the end of the season means Alonso can call upon his entire first-team squad. 

Prediction

No team has ever won a treble undefeated, and that’s Leverkusen’s next target after ending Bayern Munich’s decade-long reign in the Bundesliga.

Heavily fancied to beat second-tier Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal title, the Germans know the Atalanta game is a true challenge. 

However, no one would dare to bet against Alonso’s side, and they will likely add to Atalanta’s agony following the aforementioned Coppa Italia heartache. 

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