Europa League final: Bayer Leverkusen v Atalanta preview

The stakes are high in Wednesday’s Europa League final at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium – even higher than usual.

For Bayer Leverkusen, this is the chance to wrap up part two of a treble – and take them to within 90 minutes of an unprecedented unbeaten season.

For Atalanta, it is the opportunity to lift major silverware for the first time since 1963.

Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen have created headlines around the world with their 51-game unbeaten run in all competitions which has taken them to a first Bundesliga title. This from a club which had only won the 1988 Uefa Cup and 1993 German Cup.

The Spaniard, in his first full season as a senior manager, said: “Our focus is preparing the game, not [as] a special game. We haven’t changed anything.

“We have played 51 games. The players have understanding. Now is the time to give our best.

“We have been preparing for this moment through the whole year. It’s not just today’s job. I have a great team. The players are ready for sure. I have a good feeling it will not be different. We will respect Atalanta but we have confidence in our game.”

The two finalists ended British hopes in the Europa League quarter-finals with Bayer Leverkusen knocking out West Ham and Atalanta stunning Liverpool.

Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini, whose side are without captain Marten de Roon through injury, said: “I think we are in the best possible condition in a psychological and physical sense.

“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.

“We have to respect them and try to adapt quickly to the opponents we are facing.”

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