Since beating Loris Karius’s Liverpool in the 2018 final, Real Madrid have failed to make it past the last 16 in this tournament, losing to Ajax at this stage in 2019 and Manchester City last year.
With Real missing a slew of players to injury, their bench has a decidedly youthful look and their starting lineup is missing some key players. Many of these players will be back for the second leg, so today’s one is a chance for Atalanta to take advantage while Real are relatively weak.
Atalanta: Golini; Toloi, Romero, Djimisti; Maehle, de Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Pessina; Muriel, Zapata
Subs: Pasalic, Ilicic, Mranchuk, Sportiello, Ruggeri, Rossi, Malinovsky, Caldara, Palomino, Sutalo
Real: Courtois; Vazquez, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Isco; Asensio, Vinicius Junior
Subs: Diaz, Lunin, Arribas, Suarez, Victor, Blanco, Duro, Gutierrez
Referee: T Stieler (Germany)
Hello. Until last season Atalanta had never been in Europe’s top competition but now here they are in the last 16 for the second year in a row – against none other than the most decorated club on the continent. Real Madrid did not look so snazzy when they bungled their start to this season’s group stage but they recovered to make it this far and have been in decent recent form domestically. But Spain is not the powerhouse it once was if recent humblings for Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad are anything to go by, so this could be seen as opportunity for the intrepid attackers of Atalanta to record a famous victory in a season in which they have already reached the Italian cup final and stand fifth in Serie A. Mind you, Real beat the Serie A leaders – Internazionale – twice in the group stages, and Atalanta tended to be better away than at home. In short, this one’s up for grabs.