Preview: Atalanta v Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund are one of the favourites to win the Europa League, but need to get past Atalanta in the round of 32 to keep their title challenge going.

Europa League
23 February 2018
Round of 32, second leg
Kick-off 04:05 HKT
Venue: MAPEI Stadium

Referee: J. Gil
Assistants: A. Nevado, D. Barbero
Fourth official: M. Martinez

Head-to-head summary

Atalanta 1 0 0 1
Borussia Dortmund 1 1 0 0

A post shared by Borussia Dortmund (@bvb09) on

Previous encounter

Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Atalanta 15/02/2018 (Europa League)

Borussia Dortmund goalscorers: A. Schurrle (30′), M. Batshuayi (65′, 90′)
Atalanta goalscorer: J. Ilicic (51′, 56′)

Players to watch

It’s fair to say that Michy Batshuayi has hit the ground running in Dortmund. Not only did the Belgian, discarded by Chelsea on loan, score twice in the first leg but he also has three goals from as many appearances in the Bundesliga since leaving Stamford Bridge.

Alejandro Gomez had his most prolific season yet in 2016/17, when he scored 16 goals in Serie A as Atalanta punched above their weight. Now 30, the Argentine is making his first foray into top-level European competitions, and this is the kind of match in which a goal like the one he banged in against Everton in the group stages will become a career highlight.

Team form and quotes

Dortmund are in good form in the Bundesliga, where they are unbeaten in their last eight matches and have won their last three on the trot to sit second in the standings.

They beat La Dea 3-2 in the first leg, with goals from Andre Schurrle and Michy Batshuayi, to give them an aggregate advantage ahead of the second leg.

But Dortmund manager Peter Stoger has urged his players to maintain a high level of focus in their second leg.

A draw will be enough for Stoger’s men to progress, but he has warned against complacency, telling his press conference: “There were 10 or 15 minutes in the first leg when we weren’t very active. The opposition took advantage of that immediately. We have been warned.”

Atalanta have not lost in their last four Serie A matches, but have recorded back-to-back stalemates in their two most recent matches against Crotone and Fiorentina.

The good news, however, is that despite their defeat in Germany the brace scored by Josip Ilicic count as away goals, meaning that a 1-0 win in front of their own fans at the MAPEI Stadium will be enough to win the tie.

Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini, meanwhile, says his team have a good chance of progressing at the expense of Dortmund.

“We are proud just with the fact we are facing such an important match. It remains a game of football and that’s how we will approach it.

“Everything that is around it, the enthusiasm and the eagerness, needs to be locked out so we can focus our energy on the game.

“The first leg was very useful. There were moments when either side had the upper hand, we got a sense of each other’s strengths. Now we know each other better and hope not to make the same mistakes.”

Team news

Dortmund are without Manuel Akanji (ineligible), Marcel Schmelzer (calf), Erik Durm (ankle), Raphael Guerreiro (match fitness), Jadon Sancho and Shinji Kagawa (both ankle), Maximilian Philipp (knee) and Andriy Yarmolenko (foot).

Atalanta have not reported any injuries for this tie.