Xabi Alonso overwhelmed by Atalanta in turbo mode: 'We couldn't handle it'

Xabi Alonso praised Atalanta after losing the Europa League final with Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday evening. From the first minute, the then-undefeated champions of Germany were grabbed by the throat, and Bayer had no answer.

SoccerDino, Website Writer
Published: 02:33, 23 May 2024

Despite Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten streak of 51 matches, Atalanta decided to press high, hard, and aggressively from the start.

"We couldn't handle the many difficult situations that Atalanta put us in," Alonso admitted afterwards to TNT Sports. "Atalanta demanded so much from us. They were incredibly strong in one-on-one situations. They did that so well."

"We couldn't handle it," Alonso continued. "We were unable to respond. It just wasn't meant to be tonight. The unbeaten streak is over, but it's not normal to suffer your first defeat in the 52nd match. Usually, that happens much earlier. But finishing second in a final is painful. It's going to be a tough evening."

Beforehand, Alonso had reviewed a detailed plan with his team, but during the match, nothing came of it. "Today wasn't about tactics. Individually, but also as a team, they were better. It's unfortunate that it happened on such an important day. We need to learn from this and focus on Saturday." Leverkusen will conclude the season in the German Cup final against FC Kaiserslautern.

This unexpected loss has added a bittersweet note to what has otherwise been an outstanding season for Bayer Leverkusen. Alonso's side had been riding high on a wave of confidence, having not tasted defeat in their previous 51 matches. The Europa League final was seen as the crowning achievement of a remarkable season, but Atalanta's relentless pressure and tactical discipline exposed vulnerabilities that had rarely been seen in Leverkusen's campaign.

Alonso reflected on the match with a mix of disappointment and pragmatism. "We had prepared thoroughly, but sometimes in football, things don't go as planned. Atalanta were simply better in every aspect. This is a hard lesson for us, especially on such a significant stage, but we have to take it in stride and use it as a learning experience."

The focus now shifts to the upcoming German Cup final, where Leverkusen will face FC Kaiserslautern. This match provides an immediate opportunity for redemption and a chance to end the season on a high note. "We need to regroup quickly and prepare ourselves mentally and physically for Saturday," Alonso emphasized. "Winning the cup would be a fantastic way to cap off an otherwise excellent season."

Alonso's leadership and ability to motivate his team will be crucial as they look to bounce back from this setback. The Europa League final may not have gone their way, but the resilience and determination of his squad will be tested once more as they seek silverware in the German Cup final.

Updated: 02:33, 23 May 2024