Real Madrid play the return leg of the Round of 16 matchup against Atalanta on Tuesday. At least holding the current aggregate result is enough for Los Blancos to advance to next round of the Champions League.
Real has the important away goal that was scored by Ferland Mendy in the dying minutes of the first leg. The club has won three of their last five matches in La Liga and are in good form heading into this match.
Atalanta is also in good form as they have won four of their last five matches in Serie A and are currently sitting in a Champions League spot for next season. Gian Piero Gasperini will no doubt have his men ready for this one as they fight for European survival.
The injury nightmare continues for Eden Hazard as he is out again indefinitely with a muscle injury. He subbed on against Elche over the weekend, but is once again out potentially long-term. Real will also still be without Mariano, Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola
Atalanta will likely be without defenders Hans Hateboer and Bosko Sutalo due to injury.
Real will be without the suspended Casemiro and Atalanta will be without Remo Freuler who was red carded in the first leg.
Courtois; Vazquez, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Modric, Valverde, Kroos; Rodrygo, Asensio, Benzema
With Casemiro serving suspension, Fede Valverde will likely slot into his starting spot for this match.
Zidane has a few options available for the attack even with Hazard out again. Should he give Asensio a start over Vinicius, he really has to redeem himself after his first leg performance. He was arguably the worst player on the pitch and must be much more involved this go-around.
Sportiello; Toloi, Romero, Djimsiti; Maehle, de Roon, Pessina, Gosens; Illcic, Malinovskiy, Muriel
Real Madrid—Atalanta 2-1
Needless to say, this is a crucial match for both sides on Tuesday evening in Madrid. One of these teams will be advancing past the Round of 16 and into even harsher territory.
Real should not aim to just sit on a 1-0 lead. Luckily they have Karim Benzema who did not feature in the first leg and has been playing well since recovering from injury. The backline also has its leader back in Sergio Ramos who also missed the trip to Bergamo.
Atalanta is a tough team especially when Josip Illcic, whether starting or subbing, is an offensive threat. Real blanked the Italian club the last time around so they’ve already proven they can stop the attack even when missing key pieces to the team like Ramos.
This should be a fun, yet agonizing, match as Real looks to close this chapter of this season’s Champions League round. This is a very close aggregate and truly anything can happen before the final whistle decides a winner. Atalanta will come prepared and ready to throw everything they have at the host team.