Champions duel in the Europa League


Berlin/Rome, Apr 6 (EFE) .- RB Leipzig and Atalanta, two teams that started the season in the Champions League and had to ‘move’ to the Europa League, open this Thursday a confrontation that promises spectacle and emotions against the soccer bet they present.

On paper, it’s the star tie at the bottom of the draw. The winner will face the winner of the duel between the two great revelations, Sporting Braga and Rangers.

Leipzig is approaching these quarter-finals at a good time, after having thrashed Borussia Dortmund 1-4 on the last day of the Bundesliga and in the midst of a streak that has led them to climb positions after a poor start to the season.

Now Leipzig are back in the qualifying boxes for the next Champions League and have been one of the fittest teams in Germany since the second round of the Bundesliga began.

With the Frenchman Christopher Nkunku on a scoring streak, the Spanish Dani Olmo increasingly in shape and a defensive line that gives guarantees, Leipzig is dreaming of his first title.

The Bundesliga is far away, the 18 points that separate it from Bayern are insurmountable, but the German Cup, where neither Dortmund nor Bayern are anymore, and the Europa League give Domenico Tedesco’s team hope.

Tedesco usually plays with a defense of three which allows him to have two quite offensive wingmen, one of which is usually the Angeliño, a dagger down the left wing.

Forward Nkunku is usually flanked by Dani Olmo and the Portuguese André Silva, who still does not show the same effectiveness at Leipzig as he did in his time at Eintracht Frankfurt.

While Leipzig did not have to play in the round of 16 due to the suspension of the Russian clubs (their rival was Spartak Moscow), Atalanta got rid of another German team, Bayer Leverkusen, whom they won both games.

The men led by Italian Gian Piero Gasperini, who lost their last league game to Napoli (1-3), are seventh in the table, out of European positions for next season. Raising this title is the shortest way to play in the Champions League next season, since this year fourth place seems, at best, complicated, eight points away with seven games to go in the Italian domestic championship.

On the horizon, what would be the first semifinal in the history of the team from Bergamo (Italy, north) in Europe since the competition was created. The last time they went to the semi-finals was in the 1987/88 season, in the extinct European Cup Winners’ Cup.

The ‘Dea’ sounds, together with Leizpig and Barcelona, ​​as one of the favorites to win the European tournament. And, although this year he has not displayed the best version of himself on the pitch, he has reason to believe it.

Gian Piero Gasperini revolutionized the team since his arrival, and made it an imposing name in the old continent. His colorful attacking style won him over, but the initial lack of forcefulness behind him was not convincing.

But this Atalanta is now more solid. With the Turkish Merih Demiral, recovered and expected in the starting eleven, leading the defense, the Bergamo team has gained maturity at the back. In attack they continue to be a happy team, but the injury to Colombian Duván Zapata limited them in the league, something that even caused the coach to plan games without pure forwards, only with midfielders.

With the Colombian already back, although he probably won’t start from the beginning, the team smiles. His compatriot Luis Muriel is not going through a good time. He has only scored four goals so far this season, so his place in the eleven is in danger. Marilena’s Jeremie Boga could be chosen to lead the offensive with the Ukrainian Ruslan Malinovsky.

Gasperini will try to extend the good streak of the club, achieve the fifth consecutive victory outside the Italian borders -which would set a new maximum in the history of the entity- and bring the ‘Goddess’ closer to some historic semifinals.

– Likely lineups:

RB Leipzig: Gulacsi, Simakan, Orban, Gvardiol; Mukilele, Kampl, Laimer, Angelino; Dani Olmo, Andre Silva; and Nkunku.

Atalanta: Musso; Palomino, Demiral, Scalvini; Zappacosta, Freuler, DeRoon, Hateboer; Koopmeiners; Malinovsky and Muriel or Boga.

Referee: Michael Oliver (ENG)

Stadium: Red Bull Arena

Time: 18:45 (16:45 GMT).