Atalanta's fairy tale continues for another year and Gian Piero Gasperini's side will take on Real Madrid at Gewiss Stadium in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie on Wednesday, 24 February 2020.
Atalanta Betting Preview
Atalanta were drawn in one of the toughest groups alongside Liverpool, Ajax and FC Midtjylland, but the Italians did their job to finish second, four points above third-placed Ajax and with just one defeat in the process. It was an embarrasing 5-0 home defeat, no doubts, but Le Dea bounced back with a 2-0 win at Anfield in the reverse leg – when Anfield still was a fortress.
The Bergamese outfit have regained momentum and will be keen to extend it when they take on record 13-time Champions League winners Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Atalanta comes off a 4-2 home win over Napoli at the weekend, in a game that saw head coach Gian Piero Gasperini being sent off early in the match. Nevertheless, his men were efficient enough to outscore their opposition but they'll clearly have to show more defensive resilience here.
All in all, Gian Piero Gasperini’s side can once again boast an impressive attacking record – scoring 53 goals in 23 Serie A matches, but their defense has not been so solid and this could be an issue against an injury-ridden Real Madrid side that is expected to defend.
The Nerazzurri resumed training on Monday, following their victory against Napoli in Serie A on Sunday and are preparing for the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 clash against Real Madrid.
The Colombian attacking pair of Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata was on spot to score against the Partenopei and whereas the latter struggles to maintain consistency and to produce the same efficiency this season, Muriel has already scored 14 goals in 21 Serie A appearances, starting just 8 of them.
Winter signing Joakim Maehle returned from injury and should keep his starting spot at right-back, considering that first-choice Hans Hateboer is still recovering from an injury and trains individually.
Real Madrid Betting Preview
After a tough start to their Champions League campaign, the La Liga champions were uncertain until the last moment but they eventually sealed their progress to the last 16 with a valuable 2-0 home victory over Borussia M'Gladbach to eventually finish top of Group B, courtesy of Karim Benzema's first-half brace.
Real Madrid will head to Italy on the back of a four-game winning streak amid Zinedine Zidane's selection headache.
Los Blancos have returned to winning ways following a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Levante a couple of weeks ago, managing four straight victories in La Liga and thus reducing the gap between them and current leaders Atletico Madrid to three points only, though Diego Simeone's side still have a game in hand.
They have just defeated a struggling Real Valladolid side 1-0 on Saturday but it was a game that saw Real Madrid's stopper Thibaut Courtois making some crucial saves and their overall performance was far from pleasing.
Zinedine Zidane must choose his starting side without almost a dozen of injured players and he now has just 11 fit senior outfield players at his disposal for the trip to Bergamo.
Real Madrid's ace Karim Benzema has not recovered his fitness and the top goalscorer joins the likes of Sergio Ramos, Eder Militao, Dani Carvajal, Marcelo, Alvaro Odriozola, Fede Valverde, Rodrygo Goes, and Eden Hazard on the extensive injury list.
Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos are arguably the most significant absentees of that list and whereas there are some options to replace Ramos at centre-back, Benzema's absence seems to be irreplaceable as he has netted 17 goals for the Spanish champions so far in 2020-21 and is the target man of their attack.
Lucas Vázquez should once again start at right-back, while Isco may have to once again settle for a place on the bench, despite the magnitude of the injury crisis.
Captain Sergio Ramos is ruled out for the foreseeable future yet his contract renewal remains one of the deepest concerns for Real Madrid's president Florentino Pérez and once looking unthinkable, now a possible departure of the veteran-skipper could be on the table if the issue remains unsolved.
The squad is bolstered with five players from the club’s Castilla side (Real Madrid B) with central-back Victor Chust and left-back Miguel Gutierrez included alongside midfield duo Antonio Blanco and Sergio Arribas, as well as striker Hugo Duro.
The 21-year-old striker Hugo Duro made his senior debut at the weekend but Marcelo Diaz should once again lead the line.
Possible Starting Lineups of Atalanta and Real Madrid
Atalanta: Pierluigi Gollini – Rafael Tolói, Berat Djimsiti, Cristian Romero – Joakim Maehle, Marten de Roon, Remo Freuler, Robin Gosens – Matteo Pessina – Duván Zapata, Luis Muriel. (3-4-1-2)
Real Madrid: Thibaut Courtois – Lucas Vázquez, Raphaël Varane, Nacho Fernández, Ferland Mendy – Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos – Marco Asensio, Mariano Díaz, Vinícius Júnior. (4-3-3)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
Atalanta are +130 favorites to earn a lead after the first leg, while you can get odds of +181 on Real Madrid. Meanwhile, a draw can be backed at +270 with BetOnline.
Zinedine Zidane's side have won their last four La Liga games and have kept three consecutive clean sheets in the process, indeed, but none of these games was against an attacking-minded, potent side, with all our respect.
In fact, Valencia, Getafe, Real Valladolid and Huesca (the teams that Real Madrid had won against in the last few weeks) are all ranked between 12th and 20th position in La Liga and half of them (Huesca and Real Valladolid) are in the relegation zone.
The upcoming game, under these circumstances, represents another wonderful chance for Atalanta, who are not the same inexperienced side from the past. The Lombardy side gained considerable experience over the past couple of years, including domestic and European achievements and should be ready to embrace the opportunity.