EL Final Preview – Italian or German success?

Will we get a German or an Italian winner in the EL final?

The first of the three European Cup finals takes place on Wednesday evening and it sees Italian team Atalanta take on German record breakers Leverkusen in the EL final. The game will take place in Dublin and is the fifteenth EL final.

The Aviva stadium, more associated with rugby than football, will undoubtedly be an excellent venue for such a high profile match, although many locals will have been hoping that Liverpool would be one of the teams in the final, due to the large Irish support for the Merseyside club. Nevertheless, whoever attends this match will be witnessing history as Leverkusen have the chance to win the second leg of their potential treble, as well as continue on their long unbeaten run. The alternative, a win for Atalanta, would be the first Italian team to lift the trophy.

Atalanta – what to expect

Atalanta will go into this match as underdogs but that is something that has not bothered them much this season, especially when they defeated tournament favourites Liverpool with relative ease. They are set to compete in the CL next season after another strong campaign in Serie A, they are currently in fifth spot and have the possibility to finish as high as third. Gian Piero Gasperini’s men have had an excellent campaign and knocked out Sporting Lisbon and Marseille as well as Liverpool on the way to this final, so they certainly shouldn’t be underestimated going into this match. They have won seven of the twelve games they have played in the tournament, with only one defeat, and they have scored in all but two of their last twenty-five continental matches. They can also gain confidence from the fact that they have beaten Leverkusen the previous time they met, back in 2021/22, and can feel a little hard done by the fact that they are viewed as such underdogs in this showpiece final. 

Bayer Leverkusen – what to expect

Bayer Leverkusen have had their best season ever, no one would have imagined such success awaited them when they appointed Xabi Alonso. Their unbeaten season will go down in history, 51 games without tasting defeat is certainly a tremendous achievement. The fact that they will be very heavy favourites in the German Cup final against second division Kaiserslautern means that they are odds on to complete an impressive treble. Their win on the last day of the season means that they managed to become the first unbeaten Bundesliga team and a win on Wednesday would not only continue that record but would also see them win only their second ever European trophy. The only previous triumph came in 1988, and confidence will be high going into both upcoming cup finals. 

Leverkusen will look to their young wonderkid Florian Wirtz to fire them ahead, he has scored the opening goal in three EL matches this season for Leverkusen. For Atalanta, Gianluca Scamacca has scored five EL goals this season and has never lost a European match that he has scored in.  

Both teams have won four of their last five matches and both scored four goals in their semi-final ties, with Atalanta beating Marseille 4-1 on aggregate and Leverkusen getting the better of AS Roma with an aggregate score of 4-2. The odds favour a Leverkusen win but it might be worth looking at the match going to extra time as the last three finals in this tournament have all ended with a penalty shootout. It is hard to see this being a low-scoring final, with Leverkusen’s record in particular pointing to goals being in the match. That being said, finals are generally a more tense affair and there is very little to choose between the under and over 2.5 in this match.

All three European Cup finals should be highly entertaining and we look forward to this one setting the standard for the others to follow.

Last updated: 22.05.2024