The quarter finals of the Europa League get underway this week, as RB Leipzig host Atalanta in the first leg of this tie. Leipzig are in good domestic form, after just beating Dortmund 4-1 at the weekend. However, Atalanta aren’t on a great run of form and may struggle against a high-flying Leipzig side.
Leipzig are currently sat fourth in the Bundesliga, three points away from third place and three points above fifth place. Their domestic form seems like it will be good enough for them to earn Champions League football for this season, where they will hope for a more favourable group than they had this year. They were dumped out of the Champions League in the group stages, hence their appearance in the Europa League this season. Placed in a group with PSG and Manchester City, their fate was almost sealed from the get-go. They did end the group stage with seven points, but unfortunately wasn’t enough to match their heavyweight opponents. Their first opponents in the Europa League were Real Sociedad, who they beat 5-3 on aggregate. They were then drawn to play Spartak Moscow in the round of 32 but were awarded a bye after the Russian side were kicked out of the competition.
Atalanta are currently in seventh place in Serie A, which is far away from where they would be aiming to be. Their disappointing form is reflected by their league position, which they will be desperate to improve. They had a similar journey to this fixture as Leipzig. They were originally in the Champions League at the start of the season but finished third in their group behind Manchester United and Villarreal, only four points away from advancing. When dumped into the Europa League, they first came across Olympiacos, who they beat 5-1 on aggregate, before setting up a tie against Leverkusen who they beat 4-2 on aggregate.
Atalanta have only reached the quarter finals of both the Europa and Champions League, so will be hoping to advance to the semi-finals to set a new club record. Leipzig, despite only entering European football in 2017, have previously made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League, but only the quarter finals of the Europa League.
With one of these two sides aiming to make it to the semi-finals in this competition for the first time ever, have a look at my bet builder selections below, as well as the Cheat Sheet, as some entertaining European action gets underway.
RB Leipzig v Atalanta Bet Builder Tips
RB Leipzig to Win
Even though this fixture seems like it will throw up a tasty contest between two impressive European sides, form throughout the season turns my head in the direction of Leipzig to win this match and set themselves up for an easy second leg that they would most likely advance from.
Looking at domestic form, Leipzig are unbeaten in their last seven games in the league, showing their brilliant run of form that they are currently on. Showing no signs of slowing down, this will make Atalanta worry as it will provide them with a huge challenge to put a stop to Leipzig’s aims of putting the tie to bed in the first leg. Atalanta have only won two of their last ten games in the league, which highlights their downfall in Serie A this season, outlining their recent struggles to pick up results. Leipzig will look to take advantage of this poor period in form, as being a side with confidence and momentum behind them, they will see Atalanta as a small barrier to the semi-finals.
Looking back to the weekend, both sides had fixtures against strong teams in their own leagues. Leipzig came up against Borussia Dortmund, who they easily dispatched of by beating them 4-1. Beating Dortmund by such a score line isn’t a common feat, and their dominance in the match shows the world of the current strength in the squad, and that they are a team to be feared in the Europa League. Atalanta, however, fell at the hands of Napoli as they lost 3-1. Despite being able to show their competitiveness by scoring, they weren’t able to do enough to challenge Napoli for some points, which are currently very valuable to Atalanta in the league. These two different fortunes for Leipzig and Atalanta only makes me think that the German side are in the better position coming into this fixture.
With Leipzig scoring 21 goals in their last seven league matches, this shows their ability to provide competitive performances against their opponents, which will usually end up with them claiming the victory. Atalanta, however, have only scored eight goals in their last ten games, showing their poor form in the league and their inability to provide competitive performances that result in a good amount of goals to win a fixture. Because of these reasons, Leipzig seems like the team in the best form to win on Thursday night.
Christopher Nkunku to Score Anytime
With Leipzig looking most likely to be victorious in this fixture, I’ve had a look at where their attacking threat comes from. With Christopher Nkunku having the best goal scoring season of his career, I believe that he will continue to be the game changer for Leipzig, and get himself on the scoresheet yet again, which is becoming a regular occurrence for the Frenchman.
Looking back to his performances in the Champions League, this is where he was really tested against top quality opposition in this early stage of his career. Playing all six games that Leipzig had in the competition, he managed to score seven goals in those games, enforcing himself as a striker with a tremendous amount of talent. Despite the fact that Nkunku hasn’t played in the Champions League since being knocked out in December, he still remains fifth top scorer in the competition, showing how well he performed despite facing some of Europe’s biggest sides. Being able to handle the pressure of the Champions League, as well as currently performing brilliantly in the Bundesliga season, it wouldn’t be a surprise for me if he ends up on the scoresheet.
Nkunku has proved himself to be the man to be depended upon. He has played in every single match in the Bundesliga so far. Out of the 28 games that have been played so far, Nkunku has a goal tally of an impressive 16 goals, which is the joint-third most in the league. He has also outperformed his xG by 2.2 goals, showing that his quality exceeds data. His recent form has meant that he has been nominated for Bundesliga player of the month, which highlights how impressive his recent form has been. With Nkunku only being one of four players to register over 15 goals and ten assists this season, his form places him amongst Europe’s top players such as Benzema, Salah and Mbappe who have also achieved this.
Nkunku has unsurprisingly also featured in both of the Europa League games that Leipzig have played in so far, scoring one goal in this competition. With the 24-year-old scoring 0.63 goals per 90 minutes, this outlines his consistent form and how often he manages to find the back of the net. Averaging 2.6 shots per game in the league, with 1.26 shots hitting the target, his clinical ability is something that Atalanta will have to monitor and attempt to keep quiet. Being a player that is always caught up in attacking scenarios, he always makes the most of his chances, which is why he is having a mightily impressive season so far.
Marten de Roon to be Shown a Card
In my previous selections, I have gone into detail with why I think Leipzig will come out on top in this fixture. Because of this, I have tried to identify where Atalanta could struggle the most, landing on Marten de Roon.
de Roon has proved to be a player that is depended on heavily, especially in European competitions, as he has played in every single Champions League and Europa League game this season. The Dutchman has picked up a flurry of cards so far this campaign. He has seven yellow cards in the league, one in the Coppa Italia and he picked up two in the Champions League. His constant habit of getting himself in the referee’s book is a key factor as to why I think he will be the man to make some reckless fouls on Thursday night and pick up yet another booking.
There is a small pattern emerging recently that suggests de Roon struggles to stay away from fouls in games that Atalanta aren’t on top of. In their recent defeat to Napoli at the weekend, de Roon found himself in the book. If we go back to Atalanta’s last defeat before that game, the 31-year-old picked up two yellow cards which, of course, ended up with him being sent off.
His wealth of experience throughout his footballing career allows him to spot where Atalanta could be caught out, which will result in him making a foul for the good of the team. This is reinforced by the fact that de Roon makes the majority of his tackles in the middle third of the pitch, suggesting that he is prone to putting an immediate stop to any developing attacks.
Committing an average of 2.21 fouls per game in the league, this yet again shines a light on his habit of not being afraid to make a handful of ugly tackles for the benefit of his side. Because of the probability of Leipzig getting the better of Atalanta, this increases the chances of de Roon being booked in this fixture.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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RB Leipzig v Atalanta Predicted Line-ups
RB Leipzig predicted XI (3-4-2-1) : Gulacsi; Simakan, Orban, Gvardiol; Henrichs, Kampl, Laimer, Angelino; Olmo, Nkunku; Silva
Atalanta predicted XI (3-4-2-1) : Musso; Palomino, Demiral, Djimsiti; Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Zappacosta; Koopmeiners, Malinovskyi; Boga
RB Leipzig v Atalanta Cheat Sheet
* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing *
How to watch RB Leipzig v Atalanta in the Europa League
📅 When is RB Leipzig v Atalanta? / Thursday, 7th April 2022, 17:45
🏟 Where is RB Leipzig v Atalanta? / Red Bull Arena (Leipzig)
📺 What TV channel is RB Leipzig v Atalanta on? / BT Sport Extra 1
🟨 …And who is the referee for RB Leipzig v Atalanta? / Michael Oliver 🏴