Europa League: Xhaka revanchist and novice Atalanta: the essentials before the final

The UEFA Europa League final takes place this Wednesday evening in Dublin. blue Sport summarizes everything you need to know before this meeting between Atalanta and Bayer Leverkusen.

After the disillusionment in 2019, will Granit Xhaka win the Europa League this time?

IMAGO/Laci Perenyi

Capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin will be the scene of the epilogue of the 53rd edition of the UEFA Europa League, formerly called the UEFA Cup. The Irish city has around 560,000 inhabitants (more than 1.2 million including the metropolitan area).

When Liverpool fills the city’s hotels!

  • When we planned our stay in Dublin at the start of the year, many establishments were already full while the poster for this final was still unknown. The reason ? Supporters of Liverpool, then title favorite at that time, who had anticipated their club’s participation. But that was before the Reds suffered a big disappointment in the quarter-finals against… Atalanta.

The Dublin Arena (the Aviva Stadium, its name outside European competition) will be in turmoil on Wednesday evening at around 9:00 p.m. (8:00 p.m. local time). The venue, inaugurated in 2010, will accommodate more than 50,000 spectators and is usually the home of the national football and rugby union teams. This is the second time that the C3 final has taken place there, after 2011 and Porto’s victory over Braga (1-0) in a 100% Portuguese duel.

The Dublin Arena, scene of the Europa League final

05/21/2024

The captain of the lucky winning team on Wednesday evening will not have an easy task when the trophy is presented. He will indeed have to lift the heaviest cup in UEFA competitions! Designed by the Bertoni workshop in Milan, it measures 65 cm high, 33 cm wide and 23 cm deep for a total weight of 15 kilos.

The Europa League trophy is the heaviest in UEFA competitions.

IMAGO/Inpho Photography

This final will be directed by István Kovács. This is the second time that the Romanian referee will be on the whistle for a European final, two years after the Conference League in Tirana. Last year, he was also the fourth official in the Champions League final in Istanbul. “It’s a dream come true for me. (…) Being designated for this match is a big responsibility, and I want to prove that I am ready to take on this challenge,” the 39-year-old told the UEFA website.

Atalanta BC

Outsiders of this meeting, Atalanta will experience its first continental final in 117 years of history. After having notably eliminated the favorite of the competition, Liverpool, in the quarter-finals, the Italian team of coach Gian Piero Gasperini will try to place a second trophy in its cupboard, which has been gathering dust since… 1963 and a success in the Italian Cup.

And to reach the top of the competition, the “Dea” will be able to rely in particular on its striker Gianluca Scamacca, author of six goals in ten Europa League matches this season, including five only in the knockout phase. She will also count on the experience of full-back Davide Zappacosta, already a winner in C3 with Chelsea in 2019, or even on Albanian international defender Berat Djimsiti, born and trained in Zurich, who will wear the captain’s armband in the absence of Marten de Roon, injured.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Unlike its opponent, Bayer Leverkusen has already tasted the thrill of victory in Europe, winning the UEFA Cup in 1988. And the hope of bringing home a second trophy in C3 is by far not utopian for German training. No need to remind you: the “Werkself” has just won the first Bundesliga in its history, while becoming the first German champion to remain undefeated! His crazy series (51 matches without defeat, in all competitions) is still ongoing.

This historic season for the club bears the imprint of coach Xabi Alonso and Granit Xhaka. The Swiss midfielder, who arrived last summer, was one of the centerpieces of these successes. For the Basel resident, this final sounds like personal revenge. His only experience at this level ended with a defeat against Chelsea (4-1) in 2019, while he was playing with Arsenal.

Their last confrontation

This is not the first time that Atalanta and Leverkusen have met on the European scene. During the 2021/22 financial year, the two teams had already faced each other in the round of 16 of the Europa League, with an outcome favorable to the Italians (3-2 success at home, then 1-0 in Germany). So, revenge for Bayer or new victory for the “Dea”? Answer Wednesday evening from 9:00 p.m., a match to follow in free access on blue Zoom.

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