How Atalanta Manager Gian Piero Gasperini Cracked Alonso’s Tactics, Ended Bayer Leverkusen Unbeaten Run

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Atalanta Vs Bayer Leverkusen 2024 Europa League final was a clash between two managerial geniuses – Gian Piero Gasperini and Xabi Alonso.

Before the game, Atalanta were the underdogs coming up against Bayer Leverkusen’s record 54-game unbeaten run.

One would have easily thought Leverkusen would easily ace through the game and clinch their first European title but it was not to be. Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini surprisingly got the better of the all-conquering Bayer Leverkusen side.

How Gian Piero Gasperini got the better of Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen: A tactical overview

Gian Piero Gasperini is known for his controversial high-press and possession-based style of play. He allows more bodies up in the opponent’s final third even when out of possession.

While such a style of play constantly puts the opponent under pressure, it’s known for its volatile defensive system which can easily be exploited as the defenders usually maintain a high-line when pressing.

Against Bayer Leverkusen, the footballing genius refused to spare the hints and it worked out. Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen is known for an efficient deep press system; building possession from the back before breaking on attacks.

At Dublin, Ireland, Gasperini successfully thwarted Xabi Alonso’s Die Werkself’s system. Bombing the opponents’ final third with numbers and good man-marking, they successfully broke down the Bundesliga champions, prevented them from building from the back, and closed up attacking spaces as well.

The result was a series of missed passes and frequent loss of the ball by the Bundesliga outfit. Alonso’s key pivots Xhaka and Florian Wirtz were effectively silenced, hence supply to the wide areas was curtailed.

Meanwhile, Atalanta effectively utilize Nigerian winger Ademola to do harm, thanks to the Serie A outfit’s constant press in the opponent’s half.

The sustained intense pressure from the Gasperini-led side when out of possession was Gasperini’s magic in the game. The high numbers in Die Werkself’s half make the Bundesliga champions unable to build play from the back, hence the deadlock in the attack.

The chastening defeat has cost Bayer Leverkusen their first European title in what would have been a perfect season, but it’s an opportunity for Alonso to return to the drawing board ahead of the next campaign.

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