Zinedine Zidane decided to stick with what worked against Elche over the weekend as he went with a back three defensive line again. It was a bold decision as he had only just tried it on Saturday. Zidane also went with Vinicius starting alongside Karim Benzema up top. It panned out as Vinicius had one of his best matches all season. The lineup worked as Real Madrid advance to the next round of the Champions League.
It was a bit of a slow start for Real Madrid as Atalanta held a good portion of possession early on. Atalanta were attacking the left side of the pitch hard Real in the first half. settled in rather quickly, though, and started to take over the match. Luka Modric was a two-way force tonight, contributing both defensively and offensively. He assisted on Benzema’s late first-half goal after a bad giveaway from the Atalanta keeper Marco Sportiello.
Amazing assist from Modric. And goal from Benzema⚽️ Real Madrid 1-0 Atalanta pic.twitter.com/bQoVqiHzHl— On this day in sports-Follow (@editiaEB) March 16, 2021
For Benzema its his 70th-career Champions League goal. He is now the fifth player in the European competition’s history to achieve this milestone. Vinicius also had himself a great performance, making some great runs and generating some equally great chances. Unfortunately he just couldn’t find the end product which prevented it from being a perfect performance for the youngster. Real completely shut down Atalanta offensively until late in the match. Sergio Ramos doubled the lead with a penalty after the second half started. Atalanta attempted to come back after a great set piece goal from Luis Muriel, but it was too little too late for Gasperini’s side. Marco Asensio would score just minutes after subbing on and the Muriel goal to end the match at 3-1. It was Asensio’s first Champions League goal in over two years.
Video gol goal Marco Asensio 3-1 Real Madrid pic.twitter.com/7lNYY8llrx— Fútbol en 5 Minutos - YouTube (@Futbolen5) March 16, 2021
It was a great run and assist from Lucas Vazquez and summed up the theme of the match as a whole—Real Madrid put forth a total team effort. Such as Nacho who was all over the pitch and great defensively again tonight. Even the subs like Rodrygo who had himself a great run and a near goal. Zidane tactically outclassed Gasperini, who has been touted as a masterful tactician himself in his time at the helm of Atalanta. Real should be very pleased with their performance tonight and should be heading into the next draw with a good deal of confidence.