Serie A

Wirtz drops to the bench alongside Boniface

Gianluigi Donnarumma keeps PSG in the Champions League

Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen side hold all the aces in their Europa League semi-final against Roma, and their 2-0 lead from the first-leg may go some way to explaining why the Spaniard has left the excellent Florian Wirtz on the bench.

Having already secured their first-ever Bundesliga title and set to play the German Cup Final, the German outfit could go some way to making this a vintage season if they’re able to make it to the Europa League final where they’d play either Atalanta or Marseille.

At present, incredibly, they remain unbeaten and whilst there may not be a song and dance about that record in public, we can be assured that with just a few games left of their 2023/24 campaign, Bayer won’t want to be beaten now.

Wirtz on the bench for Leverkusen

They could afford to lose Thursday night’s match and still go through on aggregate, but that’s hardly likely to be in Alonso’s thinking.

He’s been positive in each game he’s taken charge of this season, and tinkering with that formation and way of playing now won’t do him any favours whatsoever.

It’s not a time for Pep Guardiola-style overthinking, but seeing games through using the tried and tested method.

For the Roma test, Matej Kovar keeps his place in goal, and he’ll be protected by an excellent back three of Piero Hincapie, Jonathan Tah and Edmond Tapsoba.

Granit Xhaka and Exequiel Palacios will be sat just in front of the defence, whilst the likes of Jeremie Frimpong and Alejandro Grimaldo will provide the width down either side.

Jonas Hofmann, Amine Adli and Adam Hlozek will be tasked with putting the ball in the back of the net, and stopping a Roma comeback before it starts.

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