One of our writers Trambak Bhattacherjee looked into tonight's heated UEFA Champions League encounter between Real Madrid and Atalanta:
Los Blancos go into the second leg of the UEFA Champions League against Atalanta with an extra buzz of confidence following their recent comeback win against Elche, and the advantage of the Ferland Mendy away goal against Atalanta.
Atalanta are also bullish about their chances to progress to the quarter finals of the UCL who will be looking to keep out Madrid and unleash their actual attacking form for which they are considered the best attacking side in Europe and seal the win, but it will not be straightforward.
The side from Bergamo come in good shape, although they lost against Inter but won against a struggling 15th placed Spezia.
The managers of the two sides had their say prior to the game:
Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid Manager): "We're only thinking about this match. The players are focused on it and it's a final. It's the second leg and we know we have to put in a great performance to get through, Atalanta are a very strong side, with their strengths and their qualities. We know we have to put in a great performance to get through".
When asked about his 3 central defenders following the formation change during Elche, Zidane said: "We can play like this. We've played this formation in a few games. It's part of our game, we can play like this or with four, we can play in different ways. But we'll see tomorrow how we're going to set up. It's not the first time we've played with three defenders".
Atalanta Boss Gian Piero Gasperini and midfielder Matteo Pessina spoke to the press to preview Tuesday night's Champions League clash against Real Madrid at the Alfredo Di Stéfan (9pm CET).
Gian Piero Gasperini (Atalanta Manager): “We face one of the most decorated clubs in the world. I see them as being a very technical side and are a world-class outfit. They’re a team that make few mistakes, they play at a high tempo and get things right. You only have to look at the goals Benzema scores to know that he's one of the best strikers in the world and his return gives Madrid an extra boost. But Madrid are not just about Benzema, their goals come from lots of different sources."
Atalanta midfielder Matteo Pessina was full of praise towards Toni Kroos: “I’d take Toni Kroos out of the Madrid side, he's the one who keeps them taking. He misplaces very few, very few passes and everything goes through him. Although people don't take much notice of him, because he doesn’t get many goals, he offers that balance”.
Expected Lineups for the Match:
Thibaut Courtois, Nacho Fernandez, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Federico Valverde, Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema, Rodrygo
Pierluigi Gollini, Rafael Toloi, Cristian Romero, Berat Djimsiti, Joakim Maehle, Martin De Roon, Mario Pasalic, Robin Gosens, Matteo Pessina, Luis Muriel, Duvan Zapata
Suspensions: Casemiro (Real Madrid) and Remo Freuler (Atalanta) are out for the clash as they are both suspended.
Real Madrid 1-0 Atalanta
Real Madrid may win 2-0 on aggregate because it is certain that defence will be tight but Karim Benzema will be looking forward to bag some goals. Los Blancos will edge their way onto the next stage.