UEFA Europa League semi-final,1st leg preview: Leverkusen’s unbeaten run on the line

Gbenga Isaac

 Abuja 

The ever impressive Bayer Leverkusen will take to the field against Roma in their first leg Europa League tie at the Stadio Olimpico. 

The newly crowned German champions have been in top form all season, racking up a 46 game unbeaten run on the way to winning the Bundesliga, reaching the DFB Pokal final as well as this stage of the Europa League. 

They also have a knack for scoring late goals, as seen once again last weekend when they scored in the 96th minute to salvage a 2-2 draw against VFB Stuttgart. 

Xabi Alonso’s side will have revenge in their minds going into this one, as they were eliminated 1-0 on aggregate at this stage last season. Roma have continued to impress as well under the leadership of Daniele De Rossi, having scored in 18 of the 20 games he has managed thus far.

They got the better of fellow Italian side AC Milan in the quarter finals, winning 3-1 on aggregate. They come into this on the back of a 2-2 draw against Napoli at the weekend, which kept their top four hopes alive, and they will now set their sights on extending their unbeaten run against Die Werkself to five games. Whether that can be done against a rampant Leverkusen though remains to be seen.

Marseille will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to five games when they host Atalanta at the Stade Velodrome. 

The French side returned to winning ways at the weekend against Lens, a good way to warm up for this match. They have also suffered just one loss at home this season and have won five of their last six games in the Europa League. 

Their record against Italian teams is concerning, however, as they are winless in the last seven games against them, recording five losses.

Atalanta on the other hand head into this on a three game winning run, scoring eight goals, and were 2-0 winners over Empoli last time out. 

They have suffered just one defeat in the Europa League this season, going 1-0 down to Liverpool in the second leg of the quarter finals, as well as being unbeaten away from home. They have also scored at least two goals in five of their last six games in all competitions, and will look to take advantage of their poor record against Italian sides.

Rafael Nadal in action against Kei Nishikori at Rogers Cup 2015 – Rafael  Nadal Fans