Two teams whose 2021/22 European campaign began in the UEFA Champions League group stage meet for the first time as RB Leipzig play host to Atalanta.
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Two teams whose 2021/22 European campaign began in the UEFA Champions League group stage meet for the first time as RB Leipzig play host to Atalanta in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.
• Leipzig moved across from the UEFA Champions League after losing their first three matches, but wins in the last two enabled them to pip Club Brugge to third place in a section dominated by Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. They then overcame Real Sociedad in the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-offs (2-2 h, 3-1 a) before receiving a bye against Spartak Moskva in the round of 16.
• Atalanta entered this competition after failing to make it three successful UEFA Champions League group stage campaigns in a row as they lost their final Group F fixture 2-3 at home to Villarreal, thereby remaining in third place, four points behind their Spanish conquerors and five adrift of section winners Manchester United. They then made light work of Olympiacos in the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-offs (2-1 h, 3-0 a) before also winning both legs in the round of 16 against Leipzig's Bundesliga rivals Bayer Leverkusen (3-2 h, 1-0 a).
• Leipzig's one previous official contest with Italian opposition ended with an away-goals success against Napoli in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 of 2017/18 – their debut European campaign – when they won 3-1 away before losing 0-2 at home.
• This is Atalanta's third tie in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase against Bundesliga opposition, the first, against Borussia Dortmund in the 2017/18 round of 32, having ended in defeat (2-3 a, 1-1 h), the second, last time out against Leverkusen, in victory. The Bergamo side's only other UEFA contest with a German club came in the 1990/91 UEFA Cup third round, when they beat Köln 2-1 on aggregate (1-1 a, 1-0 h). Their record in Germany is therefore W1 D1 L1.
• Second in the Bundesliga in 2020/21, their joint highest finish, this is Leipzig's fifth European campaign, all in the past five seasons. They reached the UEFA Champions League round of 16 last term, where they were eliminated by Liverpool, having been semi-finalists, also under coach Julian Nagelsmann, the season before.
• New boss Jesse Marsch was in charge for the start of this season's UEFA Champions League campaign, but defeats at Manchester City (3-6), at home to Club Brugge (1-2) and in Paris (2-3) scuppered their chances of a third successive knockout phase appearance. A 2-2 home draw with the French side was then followed by a 5-0 win in Belgium and a closing 2-1 home success against the English club, for which interim boss Achim Beierlorzer was in charge before handing over the reins to Domenico Tedesco.
• This is the German side's third UEFA Europa League participation and second in the knockout phase. They were beaten on their one previous quarter-final appearance, by Marseille in 2017/18 (1-0 h, 2-5 a), and went out in the group stage the following season. UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists also in 2019/20, they won their single-leg tie against Atlético de Madrid (2-1) before falling in the last four to Paris (0-3).
• Leipzig have won just one of their last five European home matches (D2 L2) – on Matchday 6 this season against Manchester City. Their home record in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase is W2 D1 L1.
• Atalanta finished third in last season's Serie A to complete a hat-trick of qualifications for the UEFA Champions League group stage. Gian Piero Gasperini's side were also runners-up to Juventus in the Coppa Italia, losing 2-1 in the final in Reggio Emilia.
• The Bergamo club had never featured in the UEFA Champions League before 2019/20, when they reached the quarter-finals on debut before conceding two late goals to lose to Paris (1-2). They again reached the knockout phase in 2020/21, losing to Real Madrid in the last 16, but were unable to do so this term, managing just one win in their six group games – 1-0 at home to bottom-placed Young Boys – and finishing with six points.
• This is Atalanta's first appearance in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, their only previous involvement in the competition's knockout phase having been cut short on entry by Dortmund four years ago. Their record in European quarter-finals is W1 L2, the victory coming against Sporting CP in the 1987/88 European Cup Winners' Cup (2-0 h, 1-1 a), the defeats against fellow Italian side Inter in the 1990/91 UEFA Cup (0-0 h, 0-2 a) and Paris two seasons ago.
• The team from northern Italy ended a run of four European matches without an away win (D2 L2), having won all of the previous five, when they defeated Olympiacos in Piraeus in February. They made it two in a row with Jeremie Boga's late winner in Leverkusen – the 11th goal struck by Atalanta in their five European away games this season, seven having come in their UEFA Champions League group, where they drew at Villarreal (2-2) and Young Boys (3-3) either side of a 3-2 defeat at Manchester United.
Links and trivia
• Leipzig coach Tedesco was born in the southern Italian town of Rossano before moving to Germany at the age of two. His surname in Italian means 'German'.
• Leipzig's André Silva and Luis Muriel of Atalanta were strikers together at Sevilla in 2018/19. Silva was on loan from AC Milan, for whom he made 25 Serie A appearances, scoring two goals.
• Leipzig's Dani Olmo missed his penalty in the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final shoot-out as an Italy side featuring substitutes Rafael Tolói and Mattia Pessina defeated Spain 4-2 on spot kicks at Wembley after a 1-1 draw.
• Leipzig's Yussuf Poulsen and Atalanta's Joakim Mæhle are both current Danish internationals, while Joško Gvardiol (Leipzig) and Mario Pašalić (Atalanta) are Croatia team-mates.
• Leipzig and Atalanta have both found the net in all of their European games this season, the German side scoring 20 goals in eight matches (average 2.5 a game), their Italian opponents 21 in ten (2.1).
• This is the only one of the four UEFA Europa League quarter-finals featuring two clubs that have never previously won a major European trophy. Furthermore, no German or Italian side has ever won the UEFA Europa League
• Germany are the only country with more than one club in the quarter-finals – Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt. It is the first time since 2011/12 that two Bundesliga sides have made it through to this stage of the competition.
• There were contrasting results for the clubs at the weekend, with Leipzig winning 4-1 at second-placed Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga on Saturday evening and Atalanta going down 1-3 at home to title-chasing Napoli in Serie A on Sunday afternoon.
• The winners of this tie will face either Braga or Rangers in the semi-final.