Atalanta V/S Real Madrid Clash: UCL ROUND OF 16

Introduction

The forgotten kings of Europe go on a journey to reclaim their position again which they’ve been dethroned from. Real Madrid has faced Italian opposition’s in European competitions 76 times. Now for the 77th time, they face a new team which they’ll be facing for the first time ever, I.e. Atalanta. Atalanta, on the other hand, will be facing a Spanish opposition only for the second time ever. Before they faced having faced and demolished Valencia in the competition last year. Gian Piero Gasperini would have a great task at hand to stop a below-par Madrid side coached by Zinedine Zidane which takes on them at the Italian’s home.

Gian Piero Gasperini Atlanta coach

Why Should You be Watching?

This match is the first-ever competitive meeting between both sides. Atalanta stood second in their group standings after the group stages, while Real Madrid topped the group, much to the dismay of others. La Dea’s first-ever champions league campaign ended in the quarter-final stage at the loss against Paris St. Germain last year but this year they’ll look to go farther than that and they face a belittled Madrid side as a thorn in their way.

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Atalanta isn’t in the race of domestic scudetto as of now, but they’ve warmed up for this game by defeating Napoli 4 – 2. Real Madrid will not take them lightly because they defeated Liverpool at Anfield, something many top clubs have failed to do so in recent times. Real Madrid lost to Shakhtar Donetsk in the first match of the group stage campaign and it looked like they won’t take part in further rounds for the first time ever with a group stage exit. But they managed to astonish everyone by topping the group, much at the dismay of others and the cost of Inter Milan.

Zinedine Zidane Real Madrid Coach

Form

Real Madrid last won a UCL title in 2017 – 18. Post that, they’ve been humbled by Ajax and Manchester City respectively. Real Madrid have now managed to catch up on league leader Atleti with a narrow 1 – 0 win over Valladolid, but if they have to stand any chance to go further in the UCL, they’ll have to do better vs Atalanta.

Atalanta BC Champions League form: WDLWDW
Atalanta BC form (all competitions): LDDWWW

Real Madrid Champions League form: LDWWLW
Real Madrid form (all competitions): WLWWWW

Predicted Lineups

Hans Hateboer will miss the match due to an injury for Atalanta. Apart from that, they’ve got no injuries.

Atalanta BC possible starting line-up:
Gollini; Toloi, Djimsiti, Palomino; Maehle, De Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Ilicic; Zapata, Muriel

The visitors Real Madrid are without many of their star team members and thus it’ll be a headache for Zinedine Zidane to find the right team which can come on top of Atalanta. Benzema joins the likes of Eden Hazard, Rodrygo, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Eder Militao, Daniel Carvajal, and Federico Valverde in the injuries. With only 12 recognized senior players in the squad for the trip to Italy, it’s worth watching who gets the nod to be a part of Zidane’s 11.

Real Madrid possible starting line-up:
Courtois; Vazquez, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Asensio, Diaz, Vinicius Jr

Head to Head

This will be the first ever competitive meeting between both the sides.

Players to Watch Out For

Atalanta

Ilcic

He will have a big game today to take on the belittled Spanish champions and create chances that can be finished off by fellow Colombians Zapata and Muriel. In the absence of Papu Gomez, it is on him to lead the team to glory.

Atlanta forwards

Zapata

He was a part of La Dea’s group stage ventures with three goals and two assists from his side’s six outings, so his role today to score will be very important.  

Luis Fernando Muriel

The prolific striker has been in red hot form this season for Atalanta and his goal-scoring partnership with Zapata is one of the reasons why Atalanta has scored the second-highest no. of goals this season. Muriel has already scored 14 times in Serie A and also gave 4 assists. He is the main man in Atalanta’s attack and is definitely a fox in the box. A wide striker mainly, he plays throughout the field and constantly changes position when marked. Gasperoni will hope to see him firing against Real Madrid at home.

Real Madrid

Kroos

It’ll be up to him to pull the strings of the midfield and lead the team to a memorable first-leg victory over their newest Italian opposition. His leadership qualities and his composure will be a key for Madrid if they want to win the game.

Casemiro

The Brazilian is certainly the heartthrob of Real Madrid’s central midfield and has been on another level this year. In the frequent absence of Kroos and Modric, he has to lead the Los Blancos’s midfield and scored with his acrobatic volleys and glazes. He is 5th on the list in both interceptions and tackles attempted and is expected to play a vital role alongside Varane and Nacho in defense.

Varane

He’ll be captaining the club in absence of Sergio Ramos. His role in the defense will be very important to stop the imploding Atalanta attack and he will be looking to avenge his mistakes and not give the opposition an opportunity of clear goal scoring.

Conclusion

Atalanta has notched up at least three goals in nine of their last 11 home outings, so a below-par Real Madrid defense could be in for a smashing match at the Gewiss Stadium. Atalanta have nothing to lose and Real Madrid have everything to gain, so expect a top tier attacking game. We predict Atalanta 2 – 1 Real Madrid.

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