Index – Champions League – Leverkusen’s miracle collection is over, Atalanta received the Europa League

On one facet, a workforce with solely two earlier than the beginning of the 2003-2004 season, and on the opposite, a workforce that would win just one main trophy in its historical past. Regardless of this, the finals of the Europa League in Dublin, with Atalanta and Bayer Leverkusen on each side, promised to be removed from a closing.

The Germans, led by Xabi Alonso, had been capable of enter the sector within the data that, after 51 video games unbeaten this season, they’re solely two matches away from an ideal season: one is that this closing, and the opposite is the German Cup subsequent week. Atalanta, with Gian Piero Gasperini, prompted a nice shock within the Italian high flight, they usually may even attain the rostrum within the closing stretch. Each groups owe their present success to their courageous attacking play: Leverkusen scored 143 targets and Atalanta scored 98 targets within the season thus far.

The Italians are Musso – Djimsiti, Hien, Kolasinac – Zappacosta, Éderson, Koopmeiners, Ruggeri – De Ketelaere, Scamacca, Lookman with eleven, the Germans are Kovár – Stanisic, Tah, Tapsoba – Frimpong, Xhaka, Palacios, Hincapié – Wirz, Grimaldo – They began the match in a special formation.

The match itself began with a considerably stuttering sport, as if neither workforce may utterly exclude the additional stress of the circumstances. There was no hint of Leverkusen’s insane 88 p.c move accuracy within the first ten minutes, nor was there any signal of the same old attacking flurry within the Bundesliga. This benefited the Bergamo gamers, who targeted much less on precision than on attacking, and thus on creating chaos within the opponent’s defensive third. Within the twelfth minute, after Davide Zappacosta’s run from the precise facet, the pharmaceutical producers’ protection shifted, and profiting from this, the Ademola Lookman he obtained the lead for the blue-blacks (1–0).

However the Italians had been removed from resting on their laurels: if there’s a workforce in opposition to which an early lead means nothing within the season, it’s Leverkusen. Alonso’s college students have misplaced in twelve of their 51 matches thus far, transformed 4 and saved eight for a draw. It is fairly loopy what they had been able to, particularly within the early levels of the match: they scored 29 targets after the eightieth minute, and 17 after the ninetieth minute, i.e. within the moments of additional time.

The attacking machine of Leverkusen confirmed increasingly more severe indicators of life, Josip Stanisic’s shot was caught by Juan Musso, after which Alejandro Grimaldo had a promising free kick. Nevertheless, solely Atalanta scored a aim once more – they took benefit of a poor kick and obtained on the scoreboard for the second time with an correct shot Lookman (2–0). The individuals of Leverkusen could not have felt extra snug due to this, despite the fact that they’ve confirmed 3 times thus far in the course of the spring El march that they’re able to getting back from right here as nicely.

All of it appeared like a much bigger query, is it potential to tempt destiny like this in a European Cup closing? Grimaldo may have performed one thing to make sure that the reply was sure: within the thirty fourth minute, after an ideal leap, he barely tried to elevate Musso, who was sprinting out of the aim, who may basically get the ball in his lap on the proper finish of the penalty space. And a minute and a half later, the referee István Kovács judged Gianluca Scamacca’s slip on Amine Adli’s left leg within the opening spherical slightly extra strictly – however, maybe rightly, he solely gave the tattooed Italian a yellow. (And likewise to the advertiser Florian Wirtz…)

The strain emanating from Wirtz was comprehensible from a number of factors of view, and someplace maybe it didn’t even confer with the present judgment. The celebrity of German soccer, who was additionally voted the most effective participant of the Bundesliga season the earlier week and is valued by his membership at round 150-170 million euros, couldn’t present something of his skills within the first 40 minutes.

After the second aim, Atalanta was noticeably additional again, Leverkusen had rather more possession than earlier than. Alternatives arose from this – particularly the German left wing – however Musso Grimaldo additionally saved one other alternative, whereas Granit Xhaka merely missed the goal.

In the course of the break, each groups made one change: Sead Kolasinac, who jogged again to the sector – though he had already began the match after a four-week absence – needed to be pulled off the sector by Gasperini in a useless horse as a result of sub-rule on sport interruptions. Alonso, then again, intervened within the match for apparent tactical causes: Stanisic, who was taking part in for granted again, was introduced in and the basic middle Victor Boniface was introduced in. Though it was solely a change, the change led to a big reorganization for the Germans…

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However regardless of the brand new positions and the dearth of dominance with the ball for a single second within the first half, the German actions nonetheless faltered. Along with Wirtz, Xhaka, who is taken into account the true engine of the workforce and completed the Bundesliga season with an excellent variety of passes and move effectivity, additionally had a severe accountability. The routine Swiss – utterly uncommon for him – solved solely 75 p.c of his passes precisely, whereas his defensive work additionally left a lot to be criticized: he was capable of win solely two of his seven duels, and he received just one ball in 60 minutes.

By some means, everybody from Leverkusen appeared bewildered, as in the event that they had been simply ready for the opposite one, that ultimately that leg would give method, and a 30-35 meter cross may be caught, breaking the unruly machine. However the flip simply would not come as time was operating out.

And when the seventy fifth minute introduced one other aim of the match, it was in no way the aim the Germans had been hoping for. Scamacca was capable of obtain the ball unperturbed within the attacking third, then he handed to Lookman, who shot from 10 meters from slightly to the left with elemental energy into the lengthy high (3-0). The previous English prodigy, who’s now a member of the Nigerian senior nationwide workforce, sealed Bayer’s destiny in a single individual, scoring a hat-trick for an general xG worth of 0.31 (of which his three goal-scoring possibilities mixed amounted to a price of 0.17).

From there, there was actually no method again even for the season’s greatest risers…

It could have been an enormous story if Leverkusen received their second trophy of the season with 52 video games unbeaten in a row, however there isn’t a purpose to complain. What the individuals of Bergamo achieved this night can be very a lot on a sporting historic scale: in any case, Atalanta received a significant trophy once more after the Italian Cup was introduced in 1963. The 66-year-old Gasperini grew to become the oldest head coach to steer his workforce to a Europa League victory. If on the finish of the season – after eight seasons – he actually leaves and strikes his headquarters to Naples, he may hardly have discovered a greater approach to say goodbye.

As well as, the Italians can be completely happy, as a result of in keeping with the present state of affairs, they might add six groups to the 2024-2025 season of the Champions League, which is now introduced below the brand new guidelines of conduct. Nevertheless, for this, the Bergamo gamers should not advance from fifth place firstly of the season – in contrast to all different rivals, they nonetheless have two championships, versus one.

FOOTBALL
EUROPEAN LEAGUE FINAL (DUBLIN)
Atalanta Bergamo (Italy) – Bayer Leverkusen (Germany) 3-0 (Lookman 12., 26., 75.)

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