Atalanta and Juventus share stalemate as Atletico Madrid pull off crazy comeback

By Sports Desk October 01, 2023

Juventus were held to a frustrating goalless Serie A draw by Atalanta with only one point still separating both sides in the table.

Nicolo Fagioli and Moise Kean tested Juan Musso in the first half, but Atalanta had plenty of opportunities after the break to earn a winner as Wojciech Szczesny got his fingertips to Luis Muriel’s free-kick before Teun Koopmeiners had two good shots in the closing stages.

Bologna sit three points below Atalanta in the table after they beat Empoli 3-0, with Riccardo Orsolini starring after earning his first Serie A hat-trick, helping his side to their second win this season.

Roma also earned their second win of the season as goals from Romelu Lukaku and Lorenzo Pellegrini secured a 2-0 win against Frosinone, while Alan Matturro’s own goal salvaged a point for Udinese, who drew 2-2 with Genoa.

Albert Gudmundsson’s brace gave Genoa the advantage before Matturro turned the ball into his own net in stoppage time and Sandi Lovric was dismissed just minutes later.

Angel Correa’s brace helped Atletico Madrid come from behind to earn a 3-2 win against LaLiga rivals Cadiz.

Atletico faced an uphill task after Lucas Pires and Roger Marti put the visitors in front.

However, Correa helped Diego Simeone’s side to three points either side of Nahuel Molina’s goal and they move into fourth.

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They sit four points clear of Real Betis, who beat Valencia 3-0 thanks to goals from Assane Diao, Marc Roca and Abde Ezzalzouli, while Jose Arnaiz Diaz and Ante Budimir’s goals were enough for Osasuna to beat Alaves 2-0.

At the bottom of the table, Granada came from behind to draw 3-3 with fellow strugglers Almeria.

Colombian forward Luis Suarez wreaked havoc, scoring a hat-trick within the final six minutes of the first half before Granada came back into the game with Myrto Uzuni scoring in the 86th minute to rescue a point.

Lyon’s winless run continued in Ligue 1 after they were beaten 2-0 by high-flying Reims.

Goals from Marshall Munetsi and Yunis Abdelhamid handed Lyon their fifth league loss of the season and they sit rock bottom of the table.

Reims’ win sees them close in on Brest, who missed the chance to go top of the table after drawing 0-0 with Nice.

Lille beat Havre 2-0 to go sixth in the table, while Toulouse returned to winning ways with a 3-0 win against Metz and Akor Adams’ brace helped Montpellier beat Lorient 3-0.

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Rennes ended their run of five consecutive league draws after beating Nantes 3-1 to move into sixth.

In the Bundesliga, Darmstadt earned their first win of the season after beating Werder Bremen 4-2.

Die Lilien scored twice in each half and held off a potential late comeback from Bremen with two quick goals in the second half.

Vincenzo Grifo and Philipp Lienhart’s goals were enough for Freiburg to beat Augsburg 2-0 in the other game on Sunday.

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    Juventus scored three goals in eight minutes to complete a remarkable comeback and secure a 3-3 draw against Serie A's surprise package Bologna on Monday.

    The Bianconeri, who sacked Massimiliano Allegri last week, endured a nightmare start as Riccardo Calafiori and Santiago Castro propelled hosts Bologna into a 2-0 lead within 11 minutes.

    Matters got worse for Bianconeri interim boss Paolo Montero when Calafiori struck again eight minutes into the second half to put Bologna, coached by reported Juve target Thiago Motta, into a 3-0 lead, with the defender chipping the ball over goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

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    Kenan Yildiz was the player who sealed the draw, as Juve hit back against their potential next coach.

    The result left third-placed Bologna level on 68 points with Juve in fourth before the final matchday.

    Data Debrief: Three down? No problems

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    Chiesa was key to their comeback. Bologna are the team that the Italy international has scored the most league goals against in his career (seven in 11 matches).

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  • Atalanta v Bayer Leverkusen: Will Alonso's Invincibles complete second leg of treble? Atalanta v Bayer Leverkusen: Will Alonso's Invincibles complete second leg of treble?

    Back in 2001-02, Bayer Leverkusen earned the unwanted moniker of 'Neverkusen' as they saw a potential treble unravel in the space of 11 traumatic days, finishing as runners-up in the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal.

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    Ahead of the first of 2023-24's European finals, here's the key storylines and Opta facts surrounding the two contenders.  

    One down, two to go

    Wednesday's game offers Bayer the chance to complete the second leg of an unbeaten treble. 

    On Saturday, they became the first team in Bundesliga history to enjoy an unbeaten season, while only Arsenal (in 2003-04) and Juventus (2011-12) had previously achieved the feat in Europe's top five leagues this century. 

    Leverkusen are still unbeaten in 51 games in all competitions this season (42 wins, nine draws), with 12 of those coming in the Europa League (nine wins, three draws). 

    Three sides have previously won the competition without losing a game, with each of those triumphs coming within the last five editions – Chelsea in 2018-19, Villarreal in 2020-21 and Eintracht Frankfurt in 2021-22.  

    Wednesday's match will be the third major European final in Leverkusen's history, with Bayer beating Espanyol in a two-legged UEFA Cup final in 1988 and losing 2-1 to a Zinedine Zidane-inspired Real Madrid in the 2002 Champions League showpiece. 

    Alonso has taken Germany and Europe by storm with his brand of progressive, possession-based football, and Bayer's total of 6,622 successful passes in the Europa League this season is the most by any team in a single edition since 2019-20 victors Sevilla recorded 6,971. 

    Their passing accuracy of 89.5 per cent is the second highest on record (behind Nice in 2017-18, 90 per cent), while their 94.3 per cent success rate with short passes is the best ever recorded in a Europa League campaign.

    But even when Leverkusen have been less than free-flowing, they have found ways to avoid defeat.

    They squandered a 2-0 first-leg lead in the second leg of their semi-final tie against Roma, only to fight back for a 2-2 draw which saw them progress 4-2 on aggregate. Josip Stanisic scored a 97th-minute equaliser in that game, the sixth goal Bayer have scored in the 90th minute or later in the Europa League this term.

    That is the most ever managed by a team in a single major European campaign, and they also rescued their unbeaten Bundesliga record with last-gasp strikes against Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart last month.

    If Leverkusen find themselves with their backs against the wall on Wednesday, viewers would be wise not to rule them out.

    Can the nearly men get over the line?  

    Leverkusen's Bundesliga triumph has allowed them to shake off their "nearly men" tag, but Atalanta are hoping it's a case of fourth time lucky for them in major finals under Gian Piero Gasperini.

    La Dea, whose only major trophy win came in the Coppa Italia in 1962-63, were beaten 1-0 by Juventus in the Coppa Italia final last week – their third loss in that competition's showpiece game under Gasperini.

    However, they bounced back with a 2-0 Serie A win over Lecce on Saturday, Gianluca Scamacca and Charles De Ketelaere scoring as they secured a top-five finish and Champions League qualification for 2024-25.

    A return to Europe's premier club competition is just reward for a fine campaign for the Bergamo club, who will finish a Serie A season with more than 65 points (currently 66) for the fifth time (with all seasons adjusted for three points per win).

    The four previous instances – in 2016-17 (72), 2018-19 (69), 2019-20 (78) and 2020-21 (78) – also all came under Gasperini. 

    While their free-flowing attacking play has returned this campaign, La Dea have also been excellent without the ball, facing just 2.8 shots on target per Europa League game on average. That is the lowest rate of any team in the 2023-24 competition, with opponents Bayer facing 4.1 per match.

    Their backline can expect to be tested on Wednesday, though, with Bayer's total of 232 shots in the Europa League this season the most by any team in a single edition since Chelsea tallied 247 in 2018-19.

    The coaches

    Fans can expect an intriguing tactical battle between two progressive coaches at the Aviva Stadium.

    Gasperini has overseen the most successful period in Atalanta's history since taking charge in 2016, though this will be his first European final as a manager. 

    At the age of 66 years and 117 days, he will become the oldest coach to take charge of his first major European final, and the oldest overall since Jupp Heynckes led Bayern Munich to glory in the 2013 Champions League final (68 years, 16 days).

    His counterpart Alonso – at the age of 42 years and 179 days – will be the youngest coach to manage a men's European final since Roberto Di Matteo oversaw Chelsea's memorable victory in the 2012 Champions League final at the age of 41 years and 356 days, beating Heynckes' Bayern.

    Having played for Liverpool in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals, Alonso will also become just the fourth person to play in and manage in a major European final this century.

    Zidane played for Madrid in the 2002 Champions League final then managed them in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 editions. Antonio Conte played for Juventus in the 2003 Champions League showpiece and coached Inter for the 2020 Europa League final, while Giovanni van Bronckhorst achieved the feat as a Barcelona player (2006 Champions League) and Rangers boss (2022 Europa League).

    Players to watch

    The likes of Alejandro Grimaldo, Victor Boniface, Granit Xhaka and Robert Andrich have played crucial roles for Bayer this season, but their key man is undoubtedly Florian Wirtz, who was named Bundesliga Player of the Year on Monday.

    Wirtz scored 11 goals and provided 11 assists throughout Bayer's triumphant Bundesliga campaign, also recording eight goal involvements (four goals, four assists) in the Europa League this term – the most of any Leverkusen player.

    Meanwhile, his total of 28 open-play chances created in the 2023-24 competition has only previously been bettered by five players in a single edition, most recently Amin Younes for Ajax in 2016-17 (30).

    For Atalanta, all eyes will be on Scamacca, who scored outstanding goals against Liverpool and Marseille in the last two rounds.

    The former West Ham striker has six goals in the Europa League this season, a tally only previously bettered by two Italian players in a single edition. Giuseppe Rossi netted 10 times for Villarreal in the 2010-11 tournament, while Ciro Immobile scored eight for Lazio in 2017-18.

    Prediction 

    Leverkusen enter Wednesday's game as favourites, with the Opta supercomputer rating their chances of victory within 90 minutes at 50.2 per cent.

    Atalanta, however, should not be ruled out, having won seven of their nine matches since losing 1-0 in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie against Liverpool (one draw, one defeat).

    They are assigned a 24.4 per cent chance of victory, with 25.4 per cent of the supercomputer's match simulations finishing level, which would mean extra time and potentially penalties. 

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