Taken from AFP
A Real Madrid plagued by casualties travels to Bergamo to test its current good run against Atalanta in the first leg of the knockout stages of the Champions League.
“We are doing well, having continuity in the results, there are three games where we did not concede goals, it is important,” said the white coach, Zinedine Zidane, after winning 1-0 at Valladolid on Saturday in LaLiga.
“We have to continue with what we are doing,” he added, looking at Wednesday’s game in Bergamo.
The merengue team accumulates four consecutive games, winning the Spanish championship, which has brought them closer to three points behind the leader, Atlético de Madrid.
Supported by this positive streak domestically, Real Madrid test its chances on Wednesday in the ‘Champions’, the whites’ fetish trophy, in a match against Atalanta to which they attend with many casualties due to injury.
Zidane still cannot count on his captain, Sergio Ramos, who had a meniscus operation and who, according to the press, would like to return for the return leg of the meeting in March, nor with the Belgian star Eden Hazard.
– Neither does Benzema –
The merengue coach will not be able to count on the Uruguayan midfielder Fede Valverde or the Brazilians Rodrygo, Marcelo and Militao, or the winger Dani Carvajal.
This long list was joined last week by the Merengue team’s offensive strut, Karim Benzema, victim of a muscle problem in the left adductor, who does not arrive in time for the match.
“There are many casualties and it is what there is. The players who are doing well are committed. We have to continue ”, assured Zidane last weekend.
The white team will try to regain its momentum in Europe, after touching on disaster in the group stage, in which they managed to qualify on the last day, raising some doubts about the possibilities of the Merengue team in Europe.
“Madrid is Madrid, this shirt gives you something. We are going to go there to win and have a good game, ”however, Real’s French full-back Ferland Mendy told Marca newspaper.
Zidane’s team will not have it easy against Atalanta, fifth in the Italian league, which has accumulated five games without losing.
– Muriel points to Real Madrid –
The Italian team comes to the match after beating Naples 4-2 on Sunday in the domestic championship with a goal from Colombian striker Luis Muriel, which is emerging as one of the great dangers for the Spanish squad.
“I think that if Atalanta plays as they did this Sunday, with this balance, it will also be very difficult for Madrid,” said Muriel, who scored 17 goals this season in 30 official matches, after the match.
Atalanta will face the whites with the memory of their good performance in the Champions League last year when they eliminated Valencia (4-1, 3-4) in the round of 16 before falling in the quarterfinals against Paris Saint-Germain, who would end up being a finalist of the tournament.
Despite Real Madrid’s casualties, Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini says that “I never thought that Madrid is vulnerable. In ‘Champions’ it transforms ”.
“He knew how to win games consecutively at a time of difficulty due to casualties, so tomorrow will be a difficult game to interpret,” Gasperini added at a press conference.
Atalanta: Gollini – Toloi, Djimsiti, Palomino – Maehle, De Roon, Freuler, Gosens – Ilicic – Zapata, Muriel. Coach: Gian Piero Gasperini
Real Madrid: Courtois – Lucas Vázquez, Varane, Nacho, Mendy – Casemiro, Kroos, Modric – Marco Asensio, Mariano, Vinicius. Intern: Zinedine Zidane (FRA)
Árbitro: Tobias Stieler (GER)