Xabi Alonso admits Leverkusen 'couldn't cope' with Atalanta's intensity

Xabi Alonso admits Leverkusen 'couldn't cope' with Atalanta's intensity

Bayer Leverkusen's remarkable 51-game unbeaten streak came to an abrupt halt in the Europa League final as Atalanta claimed a resounding 3-0 victory in Dublin.

The Italian side, led by Ademola Lookman's hat-trick, outclassed the Bundesliga champions in every facet of the game. Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso admitted his side simply couldn't cope with Atalanta's intensity and tactical prowess.

Leverkusen entered the final as clear favourites, having already clinched the Bundesliga title and with the German Cup final against Kaiserslautern still to come. Hopes were high for an unbeaten treble, but Atalanta had other plans.

Lookman was the star of the show, netting a superb hat-trick while Atalanta goalkeeper Juan Musso enjoyed a relatively quiet evening, seldom troubled by the Leverkusen attack.

"We did not plan on having a bad day today, but it was not meant to be," Alonso told media afterwards. "We could not cope with many difficult situations that we were preparing for because Atalanta demand so much of you.

"One v one situations, duels, but we were not getting the ball in the right situations to take advantage. They do that so well."

Leverkusen, known for their late comebacks, seemed out of sorts from the start. Lookman's third goal in the 75th minute sealed their fate, ending any hopes of a miraculous turnaround.

"We were not able to come back and get that back. It was not meant to be. The unbeaten run has come to an end but congratulations to Atalanta, they deserve it, so nothing more to say," Alonso conceded.

Atalanta's bold attacking strategy, featuring Teun Koopmeiners, Gianluca Scamacca, Lookman, and Charles De Ketelaere, paid off handsomely. Their relentless pressure and fluid play left Leverkusen struggling to find their rhythm. "Yes, I would say so. When they scored the first goal, they got a lot of energy. We probably tried to play too many passes in the first phase when we should have tried to attract the first player then go long a bit more," Alonso confessed.

"It was not about tactics. Individually they were better and as a team as well. We have to learn from that. It hurts that it comes on a big day like today but we have another final on Saturday and we will try to learn from today," Alonso added, looking ahead to the German Cup final.

Atalanta's journey to their first-ever UEFA trophy was nothing short of impressive, having eliminated Sporting CP, Liverpool, and Olympique Marseille en route to the final. Their triumph over Leverkusen not only ended the German side's unbeaten run but also marked a historic achievement for the Italian club.

For Leverkusen, the focus now shifts to the German Cup final, where they hope to bounce back from this disappointment and secure another piece of silverware.

READ MORE: Burnley boss Vincent Kompany poised to take helm at Bayern Munich