Leverkusen coach Alonso opts for Palacios over Andrich in Europa League final against Atalanta

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Atalanta fans cheer holding a banner that depicts Atalanta's head coach Gian Piero Gasperini before the Europa League final soccer match between Atalanta and Bayer Leverkusen at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

DUBLIN – Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso opted to start Argentina midfielder Exequiel Palacios over Robert Andrich in the Europa League final against Atalanta on Wednesday.

Andrich, who made his Germany national team debut at age 29 this season, had started more games in Leverkusen's run to final than Palacios, who was on the 2022 World Cup-winning squad.

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The new German champion aims to extend its remarkable season-long unbeaten run to 52 games with just the domestic cup final left to play Saturday.

Both teams will start with their regular Europa League goalkeepers who play less often in domestic league games: Matěj Kovář for Leverkusen and Juan Musso for Atalanta.

Alonso and Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini picked teams in their favored 3-4-3 formations.

Atalanta was drawn as the home team and will play in its traditional blue and black striped jerseys. Leverkusen changes from black and red to its pale grey colors.

Atalanta has never won a European title and is in its first continental final.

Leverkusen won the 1988 UEFA Cup, the forerunner to the Europa League, and was the Champions League beaten finalist in 2002.



Atalanta: Juan Musso; Berat Djimsiti, Isak Hien, Sead Kolašinac; Daide Zappacosta, Ederson, Teun Koopmeiners, Matteo Ruggeri; Charles de Ketelaere, Ademola Lookman; Gianluca Scamacca.

Bayer Leverkusen: Matěj Kovář; Edmond Tapsoba, Jonathan Tah, Josip Stanišić; Jeremie Frimpong, Exequiel Palacios, Granit Xhaka, Piero Hincapié; Florian Wirtz, Álex Grimaldo; Amine Adli.


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/Soccer

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