Two relatively new sides when it comes to European football, both RB Leipzig and Atalanta will be looking to take a step closer to their first piece of major continental silverware. Both sides dropped into the Europa League from the Champions League group stage having been handed tough draws, with RB Leipzig finishing third in their group behind Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
It wasn’t a good Champions League campaign for RB Leipzig, regardless of the teams in their group, as they managed just seven points from six matches – only finishing three ahead of fourth-placed Club Brugge. Dropping into the knockout play-off round of the Europa League, Leipzig were handed another pretty tough tie against Real Sociedad but managed to get through 5-3 on aggregate including a 3-1 away win in the second leg. They were awarded a bye to the quarter-finals, initially drawn against Spartak Moscow in the last 16 before the Russian side’s expulsion.
For Atalanta, the Europa League may be their best route back to the Champions League, currently seventh in Serie A and eight points behind fourth-placed Juventus – a mountain to climb even with a game in hand. Like Leipzig, Atalanta were underwhelming in the Champions League and finishing just one point clear of fourth-placed Young Boys in their group, behind Manchester United and Villarreal.
Atalanta were given a potentially tricky tie in the knockout play-off round of the Europa League against Olympiacos but they eventually sailed through 5-1 on aggregate thanks to a 3-0 away win in the second leg. Their result was a cracking tie for the neutrals against Bayer Leverkusen, which Atalanta just about edged 4-2 on aggregate.
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RB Leipzig vs Atalanta: Match Stats
There aren’t many players more in form in Europe right now than Christopher Nkunku. The Frenchman has been directly involved in 27 goals in the Bundesliga this season, scoring 16 and providing a further 11 assists. Across Europe’s top five leagues, only four players have more direct goal involvements and they are Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski, Mohamed Salah and Kylian Mbappe. Nkunku has been even better in Europe, scoring eight goals in eight games for RB Leipzig including one against Real Sociedad.
RB Leipzig and Atalanta are two very attack-minded sides who don’t worry too much if their defences are left a bit unprotected. In the Europa League alone, RB Leipzig’s matches average four goals while Atalanta’s have brought three per game.
This will be the first meeting between these two sides and only the third competitive match RB Leipzig have had against an Italian team, winning one and losing one against Napoli in the 2017/18 Europa League last 32 (going through on away goals). Atalanta have won three, drawn two and lost five of their competitive game against German sides – including knocking out Bayer Leverkusen in the last round.