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16.03.2022Europa League

Our next opponents: Atalanta also dangerous on the road

The second and decisive duel between Bayer 04 and Atalanta at the BayArena on Thursday 17 March (kick-off: 18.45 CET) comes just seven days after the encounter in Lombardy. The first leg of the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 tie saw the team placed sixth in Serie A win 3-2 at the Gewiss Stadium.
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A "rough ride and an emotional rollercoaster," was the view of the Bayer 04 head coach Gerardo Seoane. The Werkself took an early lead on 11 minutes with a placed shot from the edge of the box by Charles Aránguiz. Atalanta turned the game round in the first half within two minutes with goals from Ruslan Malinovskyi and Luis Muriel. The Colombia international doubled his tally after the restart to put his team 3-1 up. Bayer 04 had goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky to thank that the deficit was not bigger. The Moussa Diaby goal to make it 3-2 rounded off a highly intense match.

Gasperini rotates against genoa

Following the exhausting match against the Werkself, the Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini rotated his team last weekend in a 0-0 draw with Genoa in the league. The coach made six changes to his starting line-up. Marco Sportiello made his second league appearance of the season in goal in place of the number one Juan Musso. Giorgio Scalvini and José Luis Palomino came into central defence for Rafael Tolói and Mehri Demiral. Joakim Maehle, Matteo Pessina and Mario Pasalic started in midfield with the Dutch players Marten de Roon and Hans Hateboer plus the Swiss Remo Freuler on the subs bench.

Koopmeiners "a complete player"

Luis Muriel had the best chance in the first half in a tough game against the side next to bottom in Serie A but he hit the post. In the second half, Pasalic put a shot over the bar from a promising position after impressive work from Teun Koopmeiners. Otherwise, Atalanta were disappointing in front of their own crowd for much of the game. "It's a fair result," said coach Gasperini after the game. "Perhaps we had one more chances than our opponents but they succeeded in disrupting our game and keeping us busy. It was a hard-fought game with lots of battling but little flow. Genoa make life difficult for every opponent." The coach was particularly happy with the development of his midfield player Teun Koopmeiners: "He's a very strong and complete player, has good ball control, good physique and a good passing game."

The one point against Genoa does not really help 'La Dea' in the race for a Champions League spot. They are currently eight points behind Juventus in fourth place albeit with Atalanta having a game in hand.

Atalanta strong away from home

Gasperini will again rotate in several positions for Thursday night's match at Leverkusen. Musso will be back in goal, captain Tolói in defence and regular starters like de Roon und Freulerback in the midfield. Malinovskyi and Muriel are established up front with Duvan Zapata and Josip Ilicic still sidelined.

"It's all to play for in the second leg and it will be a tight game," said Bayer 04 coach Gerardo Seoane after the game in Bergamo. The Werkself have to win and that will not be an easy task even at home against the team from Lombardy who have the third best away record in Serie A. The away goals rule no longer applies this season. A 1-0 or 2-1 win for the Werkself would lead to extra time.

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