The Europa League is back, with Round of 32 to commence from 15th of February where 2012-13 Champions League finalist, Borussia Dortmund will take on Italian club Atalanta.
Dortmund finished third in the group stage of the Champions League, competing against the likes of Real Madrid and Tottenham. As a result, Dortmund are playing Europa League this term after seven years.
Meanwhile, Atlanta will travel to Singal Iduna Park on a high note as they finished top of their group finishing undefeated above Lyon and Everton. So they will try to give there best and cause an upset. This game will be the one to watch as two teams full of young players want to show the world what they have got.
Atlanta, currently eighth in Seria A, registered four wins and two draws in 6 group stage games scoring 14 times in total conceding just four goals. Bryan Cristante is the highest scorer for Atlanta, scoring three times in 6 games in the league. But they have lost twice in last five games in all competitions(2 wins, 1 Draw).
Meanwhile, Dortmund is unbeaten in their last five games( 2 wins, 3 Draws). So Dortmund looks favorite for the game. It will be challenging for Atlanta to play against Dortmund in Singal Iduna Park with a capacity of 81,360. Dortmund fans are mainly known for their “Yellow Wall.” So it will be like playing 11 vs 12 for Atlanta as Dortmund fan base could play a vital role in this tie. It looks like a draw will be an excellent result for Atlanta.
After finally clearing Aubameyang saga, looks like Dortmund have found a perfect replacement in the form of Michy Batshuayi, on loan from Chelsea. Batshuayi started his life in Germany in a flier, scoring three times and assisting one in the first two matches. With Marco Reus back from injury, he will be expected to produce some magic moments in this tie.
Dortmund team have players like Mario Gotze ( the scorer of World Cup-winning goal, 2014), Andre Schurrle and Shinji Kagawa, so it will take a lot of efforts from Nerazzurri if they are to stop this side from scoring.
As electrifying Dortmund attack as it is there defensive inability to keep clean sheets which worries them. They coincided 13 goals in six champions league matches. With Marc Barta having moved away from the club, finding a right solution in defense will be a challenging task for Peter Stoeger.
Dortmund will be hoping to register a big win before traveling to Italy for the second leg. Meanwhile, Atalanta will look to pull an upset or at least secure a draw with away goal before playing back in their home ground in seven days time.
Borussia Dortmund will be uplifted by the return of Marco Reus from a long-term injury. With Chelsea Loanee Michy Batshuayi clear to play will give Dortmund a significant edge before the match.
English teenage sensation Jadon Sancho(ankle), Portugal left-back-cum-midfielder Raphael Guerreiro (muscular), Durm (ankle) and Yarmolenko (tendon) will be on sidelines for the Germans.
Coach Peter Stoger, though, will be happy to hear that club captain Marcel Schmelzer in contention after recovering from a calf injury. Julian Weigl could miss the return leg in Italy if he gets a caution on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini may have something to worry with captain Papu Gomez and center-back Mattia Caldara as they are likely to miss the clash due to back injuries. Midfielder Luca Rizzo is also unavailable after damaging knee ligaments in training last month.
Andrea Masiello and Josip Ilicic will have to be extra careful against the Germans as the duo could miss the second leg if they are booked on Thursday.
Key Players To Watch
Many expect Marco Reus to be the key man for Dortmund after scoring three goals and one assist in his first two matches for Dortmund. Marco Reus made his first start in 259 days in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Hamburg. It might be some time when we see the best of Reus, but still, he will be the one to watch for the visitors.
Michy Batshuayi will be a crucial player as well for the Yellows. After his switch from Chelsea in winter, he has adapted to this Dortmund team surprisingly well.
Midfielder Bryan Cristante will be the key player for Atalanta. With ten goals in all competition this year Cristante will be the backbone of this 3-5-2 formation. Striker Andreas Cornelius will also be a player to watch in this tie.
Atlanta defense is one of the reasons for their success this year. The Argentine international Jose Luis Palomino is expected to play a crucial role in this tie.
Dortmund vs Atalanta Key Facts
Dortmund vs Atalanta Lineup (Predicted XI)
Borrusia Dortmund Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Marco Reus is expected to start with Michy Batshuayi to lead the lineup front. The formation could be 4-2-3-1.
Def: Piszczek (RB), Sokratis (CB), Torpak (CB), Tolijan(LB)
Mid: Pulisic (RW), Marco Reus(CAM), Weigl (CDM), Kagawa (CM), Andre Schuerrle(LW)
Atalanta Lineup (3-5-2)
Italian is expected to play defensively in this match. The formation could be 3-5-2. With defender Caldara Doubtful for the clash, Toloi is expected to start the match.
Def: Toloi (RCB), Palomino (CB), Masiello(LCB)
Mid: Castagna(RWB), Cristante(CM), De Roon( CM), Freuler(CM), Spinazzola (LWB)
Borussia Dortmund vs Atalanta Prediction
Atalanta defeated Dortmund 1-0 when these two teams met in the Preseason. This is the first time these two will play each other in the big competitions. With the excellent form of Michy Batshuayi and the return of Marco Reus, we expect Dortmund to win this game 3-1.