Europa League Final Preview: Atalanta -v- Bayer Leverkusen

A general view of the UEFA Europa League Trophy ahead of the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 final match between Atalanta BC and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Dublin Arena on May 20, 2024 in Dublin, Ireland

A general view of the UEFA Europa League Trophy ahead of the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 final match between Atalanta BC and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Dublin Arena on May 20, 2024 in Dublin, Ireland Credit: Photo by Charles McQuillan - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images


The Italian side have the chance to ruin Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten run through the 2023/24 season at the ‘Dublin Arena’ on Lansdowne Road on Wednesday evening (kick-off 8pm).

Injured skipper Martin De Roon has been brought by Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini as a vibes man for the Europa League Final. 

“I won’t deny I’d much rather have him on the pitch but I’m delighted that he is here,” said Gasperini to the media in the stadium on the eve of the game. “He will be in the dressingroom. He will bring his energy to his teammates. He has been an exemplary captain in terms of his behaviour on and off the pitch.”

De Roon said: “I need to provide positive vibes to the team. My teammates need to savour and enjoy the match but need to make sure they play at their highest level. They need to pick themselves up after any mistakes.”

If Atalanta do ruin the German club’s magnificent unbeaten run, there will still be some romance of their own as La Dea have never won a European trophy, having never been beyond the quarter-finals in Europe prior to this campaign. Indeed, they have only won one major trophy in their history – that was the Coppa Italia back in 1963. They are looking to become the first Italian side to lift this trophy since Parma in 1999.

They ruined the chance of a Jurgen Klopp send-off in Dublin by beating Liverpool in the quarter-final and overpowered Marseille in the semi-final second leg winning 3-0 to give them a 4-1 aggregate win. The challenge steps up now against the invincible Leverkusen side.

“Until now they have had a perfect season. I don’t want to say they have short comings but every team is beatable. They appear invincible but we can beat them,” assured De Roon.

Berat Djimsiti will have the captain’s armband in De Roon’s absence. He noted the significance of the game coming up against a Leverkusen side that has done “extraordinary things” this season going unbeaten till this point. 

“I see a huge media presence here in the stadium which shows its importance. You can stop Leverkusen by playing as a team. It isn’t just our defence. It is our defence and attack working as a unit. Our motivation is we can become the first team to beat them.”

This season will be viewed as a success having qualified for next season’s Champions League final but they don’t want to go through the season losing two finals. Atalanta lost the Coppa Italia final to Juventus 1-0 last week – the third such cup final defeat for Gasperini with La Dea.


With the bang of petrodollars off it, last year’s Manchester City treble wasn’t one that many football fans outside of the Sky Blue persuasion got behind. It is a different story this year, as Bayer Leverkusen look to complete an unprecedented unbeaten treble.

They won the club’s very first Bundesliga title earlier this month and on Tuesday night in Dublin they will look to secure the Europa League – with the DFB Pokal German Cup Final to come this weekend against 2. Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern.

They travel to Dublin with a record across all competitions this 2023/24 season of P51 W42 D9 L0. Xabi Alonso’s team have made a habit of scoring late goals. All told they have scored 33 goals in the last ten minutes of matches. Those late goals have played crucial parts in their European campaign. In the last 16 against Qarabag, they came from 2-0 down to draw in Azerbaijan with a very late Patrik Schick goal but in the return leg, they needed substitute Schick to strike once again. He scored twice in added time to earn an amazing 5-4 aggregate win.

In the semi-final having beaten Roma 2-0 in the first leg, they trailed 2-0 in the 83rd minute of the second leg. They grabbed one goal to retake the lead in the tie but didn’t sit back with their unbeaten record still at stake. Die Werkself pressed on to try and a goal seven minutes into injury time saved their unbeaten record.

Speaking on the eve of the game to the media Xabi Alonso said: “By this stage our players know they will score by the 95th minute so maybe they no longer believe in defeat. That belief is crucial to our mindset. Right from the start of last season we believed in our brand of football and our footballing principles and that is at the heart of this winning run.

“We need to make the most of space intelligently. We also need to decide when to go more direct or play shorter passes. We have those options. What matters is our performance out of possession.” 

Bayer have been the nearly men on so many occasions – five times runners up in the Bundesliga since 1997 and German cup runners-up twice (most recently in 2020) and a loss in their last European Final – losing 2-1 to Real Madrid in the 2002 final played in Hampden Park.

Referee: István Kovács (Romania)


Leverkusen have won ten and drawn three of their last 13 Europa League matches – this is the sixth season in a row they have played in this European competition. 

The German side have scored 13 goals in the 90 minute mark and later this season.

The teams played each other previously in Europa League back in the 2021/22 round of 16. Gian Piero Gasperini's side got the better of a Werkself team coached then by Gerardo Seoane, winning 3-2 at home and then 1-0 at the BayArena. 

Gianluca Scamacca is top scorer for Atalanta in this season’s Europa League with six goals. Bayer Leverkusen’s Victor Bonface has one fewer while Patrik Schick has five. The overall top scorer is Marseilles Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with ten.


2-1 win for Leverkusen


Possible team: Musso; Djimsiti, Hien, Scalvini; Zappacosta, Koopmeiners, Ederson, Ruggeri; De Ketelaere, Scamacca, Lookman

Injured: Holm, De Roon

Doubtful: Tolói, Kolašinac

Suspended: None

Bayer Leverkusen

Possible team: Kovář; Tapsoba, Tah, Hincapie; Stanišić, Palacios, Xhaka, Grimaldo; Wirtz; Frimpong, Adli

Injured: None

Doubtful: None

Suspended: None