Underdogs Atalanta Grab First European Crown

2024 Europa League Roundup: Competition and Awards Recap

Aubameyang Finishes as Top Scorer

Two weeks ago, Atalanta won their first-ever European trophy by taking down previously unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen. La Dea won 3-0 in the Europa League Final as Ademola Lookman’s hat trick capped off a superb campaign for Gian Piero Gasperini and Atalanta. We’ll take a closer look at the Final and Atalanta’s incredible run in our 2024 Europa League Roundup. Plus, we’ll recap the awards and the UEL Team of the Season.

The Final

Bayer Leverkusen went into the Europa League Final vs. Atalanta on a 51 game unbeaten streak. Leverkusen were -125 favorites in 90 minutes and -240 favorites overall. For their first European Final in club history, Atalanta were +330 underdogs in normal time and La Dea showed +190 overall odds to lift the trophy.

Early on, it was clear Leverkusen were out of sorts. They couldn’t handle the press from Atalanta and 12 minutes in, Ademola Lookman turned in a Davide Zappacosta cut back. Before halftime, Lookman added a second as he sent a curling effort past Leverkusen keeper Matej Kovar.

Lookman completed his first career hat trick in the second half, with a stunning left-footed streak. It was also the first hat trick in a UEFA Final since 1975. The 3-0 victory ended Atalanta’s 61 year wait for major silverware and it’s just their second major trophy in club history.

Gasperini Masterminds Atalanta’s UEL Triumph

The Europa League draw placed Atalanta in Group D, with Sporting, Sturm Graz and Raków Częstochowa. La Dea went unbeaten in the Group Stage, with a 4-2-0 record en route to a first place finish.

After drawing and beating Sporting in the Group Stage, Atalanta also faced them in the Round of 16. Gianluca Scamacca scored in both legs as La Dea advanced 3-2, on aggregate.

The first leg of the Quarter-Finals was one of Atalanta’s best moments of the season. The Europa League bracket put them up against Liverpool. Atalanta went to Anfield and destroyed Liverpool 3-0 as Scamacca scored twice. La Dea’s only loss of the Europa League season was in the second leg, when they fell 1-0 to Liverpool but advanced to the Semifinals.

Atalanta eked out a 1-1 draw at Marseille in the first leg of the Semifinals. Back in Bergamo, Atalanta easily took down Marseille 3-0 with goals from Lookman, Matteo Ruggeri and El Bilal Toure.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s uncompromising tactics were at the heart of Atalanta’s triumph. La Dea outworked and outclassed most of their opponents and their pressing was a sight to see. Scamacca led Atalanta with six goals during their UEL campaign, while Lookman added five.

Notable Teams and Moments

Our 2024 Europa League Roundup notes that Bayer Leverkusen would have won the first ever unbeaten treble had they beaten Atalanta in the Europa League Final. Despite their UEL campaign ending in disappointment, Leverkusen had an incredible campaign. They and Atalanta were the only unbeaten teams in the Group Stage.

Plus, Xabi Alonso’s team came back from 2-0 down twice vs. Qarabag in the Round of 16 and did so again in the Semifinals vs. Roma. Like Atalanta, Bayer Leverkusen will be playing in the Champions League next year.

Semifinalists Roma and Marseille had circuitous routes to the last four but they weren’t far off from making the Final. Roma came alive under Daniele De Rossi as they defeated AC Milan twice in the knockout stage and Romelu Lukaku led the Giallorossi with seven UEL goals.

Marseille had one of their worst domestic seasons in a while, finishing in eighth place. However, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 10 Europa League goals powered them to the Semis.

Liverpool were the tournament favorites heading into the Knockout Stage but Atalanta overpowered the Reds in Jurgen Klopp’s last season.

Olympiacos went out in the Group Stage of the Europa League, as they finished in third place in the Group A Europa League standings. Still, they went on to win the UEFA Europa Conference League Final over Fiorentina.

Awards

Our 2024 Europa League Roundup certainly wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the season’s award winners. Aubameyang, who became the Europa League’s top goalscorer of all-time this season, won both the Golden Boot and the tournament’s Player of the Season Award. Roma’s Lukaku was second in the Golden Boot race, with seven goals, while Scamacca and Brighton’s Joao Pedro both found the net six times.

Meanwhile, Florian Wirtz, who also won the Bundesliga’s Player of the Season Award, won the Europa League’s Young Player of the Year Award. The Leverkusen attacking midfielder scored four UEL goals and provided four assists.

Both Aubameyang and Wirtz made the Europa League Team of the Season, of course, and here’s the full squad:

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