For the first time in the club’s history, Atalanta failed to get out of their Champions League group stage, finishing third behind Manchester United and Villarreal, dropping them down to the Europa League. La Dea were pit against Olympiacos in the knockout play-off round and the tie finished relatively comfortably in their favour.
After a tight 2-1 win in the first leg, Atalanta left Greece with a 3-0 victory to keep their Europa League quest alive. Things aren’t as rosy in Serie A though, with Atalanta losing two of their past three matches to drop six points behind fourth-placed Juventus in the race for Champions League football. Although they do have a game in hand over Juventus, the Europa League may be their best route back to the Champions League.
Bayer Leverkusen go into this game off the back of a big result in the Bundesliga, coming from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Bayern Munich (albeit thanks to a Thomas Muller own goal. It continued their decent run domestically, which has seen them win 16 points from their past seven games.
The German side will be hoping to carry their good form into this week’s game, but will want to improve on their final Europa League group stage game, ending with a defeat back in December. It came as part of an overall bad run for Leverkusen but wasn’t enough to topple the German side from top spot, as they earned 13 points from their six matches to secure a bye to the last 16.
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Atalanta vs Bayer Leverkusen: Match Stats
With Duvan Zapata out injured, Atalanta will likely be relying on Ruslan Malinovskyi to get their goals against Leverkusen on Thursday. The Ukrainian led the line in the knockout play-off round second leg against Olympiacos and scored twice within two second-half minutes including a screamer.
Both these sides have been corner-happy in the Europa League this season even with the difference between their matches played. Atalanta have averaged seven corners per match in their two games played so far, while Leverkusen have also averaged seven per game across six matches.
This will be the first competitive meeting between these two sides. Atalanta have played four games against German opposition in the past, most recently the 2017/18 Europa League when they lost to Borussia Dortmund, while Leverkusen have 20 games against Italian sides.