Atalanta vs RB Leipzig preview: team news and possible line-ups
By Rafael Garrido Reinoso @RGarrido2210
After a thrilling 1-1 in the first leg, Italians and Germans clash again to settle the score to see who advances to the semifinal. The clubs come to the game with opposites dynamics.
|Angelino.||Photo: GEPA Pictures/Gabor Krieg|
Die Roten Bullen have been boosted by the return of players that were injured. Halstenberg, Poulsen, and Adams all played against Hoffenheim last weekend in a match where the team didn’t rotate as much as expected.
They had a pretty calm match against a very decimated Hoffenheim, they were solid defending and took advantage of the counterattacks.
Domenico Tedesco said they had too many “unforced errors” in the first leg, and that they have to erase them as fast as possible, as an Atalanta's counterattacks could be deadly.
Meanwhile, Atalanta lost for the second consecutive weekend in the Serie A, they're out of European positions and have some doubts about the fitness of some players.
Gian Piero Gasperini stated that the Italians left the first leg with the feeling they could have won the game, and reprimanded the lack of focus his team showed in Leipzig’s goal.
Against Sassuolo, La Dea made 7 changes from the squad that faced Leipzig, with only Demiral, Pessina, Pasalic, and Hateboer repeating.
Remo Freuler is in the squad although he’s still in doubt, Mæhle is out after having surgery for appendicitis and Berat Djimsiti is out too.
Reports from Italy talk about the possibility of Gian Piero Gasperini opting to start 18-year-old Giorgio Scalvini along with Martin de Roon and repeat the 4-2-3-1 formation.
The youngster already played 30 minutes in the first leg as a holding midfielder and did fairly well. He is viewed in Italy as being able to play the role despite his main position being center-back.
However, Gasperini will wait for Remo Freuler until the last moment.
Will there be possible changes?
Domenico Tedesco did not change much the eleven against Hoffenheim, Marcel Halstenberg entered for Angeliño, although they swapped places at the 60th-minute mark; Dominik Szoboszlai entered for Dani Olmo and Emil Forsberg for Andre Silva.
It seems safe to think Leipzig will repeat the eleven used in the first leg, as the team is functioning well.
There is the possibility of Tedesco dropping Andre Silva for Szoboszlai or Forsberg and pushing Nkunku as a number 9.
In the first leg, Atlanta displayed a 4-2-3-1 instead of his usual 3-4-2-1; Martin de Roon acted as the first-pass midfielder, dropping almost like a third center-back, but his main role was to block Dani Olmo from being creative, following him and not allowing the Spaniard to turn around and progress.
The entrance of either Forsberg or Szoboszlai can help Olmo, as he has another playmaker to associate with and sort the pressure; instead of the pin-up reference of Silva.
This could also help exploit Atalanta’s weak points, Hateboer suffered a lot this weekend against Hamed Traore in the 45 minutes he played, both in the transitions and in the 1v1.
By adding another creative midfielder, Nkunku has a higher pitch position and could attack the spaces at the back of Hateboer easier or challenge the fullback with his dribbling.
Plus, it would help to attack the centerbacks, as they would not have any reference with Nkunku going in and out of the center and with the other midfielders occupying that space.
Atalanta’s back four worked well limiting Leipzig’s offense and counterattacks and Gasperini reportedly is comfortable with that idea.
La Dea can vary a little more up front, Muriel didn’t start against Sassuolo which means he probably starts against Leipzig.
The question lies on who are going to be his companions.
“El Toro” Duvan Zapata has fully recovered and might start alongside his countryman Muriel; His physical prowess and presence could be very helpful to compromise Leipzig’s back three.
Gasperini himself said that despite Muriel’s goal, Zapata allows Atalanta to play a different way.
Teun Koopmeiners played the second 45 minutes this weekend and Gasperini labeled his performance in the first leg as important.
Malinovskiy has been in and out of the squad in the last few fixtures while Miranchuk has not performed well.
Pessina and Pasalic played off position this weekend being the pair in the central midfield and even though they did not perform well, both are candidates to play.