Sport Ultimate underdogs Atalanta eye biggest scalp yet against Real Madrid

23:05  23 february  2021
23:05  23 february  2021 Source:   reuters.com

Zidane wary of Atalanta becoming Real Madrid's next Ajax

  Zidane wary of Atalanta becoming Real Madrid's next Ajax Real Madrid have fallen at the last 16 in the previous two Champions League seasons and Zinedine Zidane knows Atalanta present a danger.Madrid take on the Serie A side in Bergamo on Wednesday, aiming to progress from the last 16 for the first time in three seasons.

Real Madrid 's injury list went from bad to worse earlier this week, as Karim Benzema joined several other stars on the treatment table. Zidane has only 11 senior fit players to choose from and has included a handful of academy players in the squad for the trip to Spain. Despite their injury concerns, the record European champions have managed to stay in the La Liga title race and are coming on the back of a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Real Valladolid away from home. Atalanta vs Real Madrid Betting Tips and Picks.

"If Atalanta play like against Napoli, conceding little and creating a lot, it will be very difficult for them too." The Bergamo side have the second best attack in the Italian league behind leaders Inter Milan. Muriel, Zapata, Robin Gosens and Cristian Romero were all on target at the Gewiss Stadium on Sunday "This gives us a morale boost before Real Madrid ," warned 63-year-old Gasperini, who has transformed the club into one of the top Italian sides since taking over in 2016. The northerners reached the quarter-finals in their first Champions League campaign last season, beating Spanish club

By Alasdair Mackenzie

a group of people playing football on a field: Champions League - Real Madrid Training © Reuters/DANIELE MASCOLO Champions League - Real Madrid Training

ROME (Reuters) - Atalanta’s astonishing run to the quarter-finals in their debut Champions League campaign provided one of the most uplifting underdog stories of last season.

Nacho et al. standing in the grass: Champions League - Real Madrid Training © Reuters/DANIELE MASCOLO Champions League - Real Madrid Training

The Serie A side’s free-flowing, fearless football earned them many admirers across the continent and strengthened their claim of being the ultimate modern-day giant killer.

That title could become undisputed if they take their biggest scalp yet when Real Madrid travel to Lombardy on Wednesday.

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Paris Saint-Germain produced yet another memorable moment in the rich history of the UEFA Champions League after completing a late comeback against Atalanta on Wednesday.

Atalanta already have one foot in this year's Champions League quarter-finals. They have been revelation under Gian Piero Gasperini and routinely overachieve. 'Is that fair? Take Roma, who over the last few years have contributed to maintaining Italy’s high UEFA ranking and yet miss out because of one bad season, with all of the financial implications that brings. We have to protect investments. 'The point is how we balance the contribution to European football and the performance of a single year.'

The 13-times European champions travelled with 11 fit senior outfield players, leading to some cautious optimism in Italy that Atalanta could continue their strong recent form by springing an upset.

a group of people that are standing in the grass: Champions League - Real Madrid Training © Reuters/DANIELE MASCOLO Champions League - Real Madrid Training

Another slow start in the league this season raised familiar doubts about the club's ability to continue challenging at the top level.

But as usual, they silenced the doubters in style and have now lost once in their last 14 league games, a run that has taken them to fifth place in Serie A, two points from Juventus in third.

"We are free and calm,” coach Gian Piero Gasperini said. “We're not the favourites (to beat Real) and we don't have the obligation to go through. We want to measure ourselves against this team to understand what we're made of.”

Champions League: You played on a narrow defeat

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Arjen Robben believes Bayern Munich are no longer favourites to progress to the Champions League final as they face Real Madrid - ‘the most dangerous side left in the competition’. Having already been crowned German champions, Bayern have let their league form slip in recent weeks, with uninspiring performances leading to a draw against Hoffenheim, and defeats to Augsburg and Dortmund. The hope is that the team can put everything into the Champions League, with Real seen as the first opponent who will be able to match or even better Bayern’s quality on the field.

- Real Madrid : Consider this a love letter to 20-year-old Vinicius Junior, who's begun his second year as one of Zidane's featured players by taking on much more of a scoring role. He's got two goals on eight shots, and he was within about 2 feet of a hat trick against Levante. Thanks to positive coronavirus tests, we haven't seen full-strength Liverpool yet -- one that fully incorporates new additions Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota alongside Mane and the new Super Salah -- and Firmino hasn't really gotten going yet . And yet , they've still scored 11 goals in four matches and, despite Oct.

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The ease with which Atalanta have adapted to life as a Champions League competitor could be a cause of concern for Zinedine Zidane’s illustrious visitors.

Other than a 5-0 hammering at home to Liverpool in November, their second group stage experience proved to be a relatively calm affair as the Bergamo side drew at home against Ajax and Midtjylland and won all their away games, including a superb 2-0 triumph at Anfield.

It was a far cry from the drama of their debut campaign in Europe’s top competition.

In 2019/20, they lost their first three group games to leave elimination looking certain, only to pick up seven points from their return matches against Manchester City, Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk and pip the Ukrainians to second place.

Yet it hasn't all been plain sailing this season.

Real Madrid shorten lead on leaders Atlético

 Real Madrid shorten lead on leaders Atlético Real Madrid have cut their lead on leaders Atlético Madrid in the Spanish soccer championship to three points for the time being. © Alvaro Barrientos / AP / dpa Real Madrid's Casemiro (M) celebrates his 1-0 goal with team-mate Lucas Vazquez. The team around national player Toni Kroos prevailed 1-0 (0-0) against relegation-threatened Real Valladolid. City rivals Atlético had surprisingly lost 2-0 (0-1) at UD Levante and failed to defend their lead. Atlético, however, have played one game less.

Manchester United. Real Madrid . Tottenham Hotspur. The Browns weren’t exactly impressive against a decimated Jets team in Week 2. It’s hard to trust them yet , even as home underdogs on The Jaguars turned a blind eye toward the Rooney Rule and the ugly side of Urban Meyer's coaching

Atalanta BC v Real Madrid Live Scores and Highlights. Football Champions League - Play Offs - 1/8-finals - Atalanta BC v Real Madrid Stream Free. Sky Sports Live Online, Bein Sports Stream, ESPN free, Fox Sport 1, BT Sports, NBC Gold, Movistar Partidazo.

A fallout between club captain Alejandro Gomez and Gasperini threatened to derail their progress.

Instead, the club backed their manager, sold the talismanic Argentine to Sevilla in January, and they haven’t looked back.

Gomez was crucial to the club’s growth and success in recent years, winning Serie A midfielder of the year in 2019/20 and scoring 59 goals in six-and-a-half seasons in Bergamo.

But since his last appearance for the club on Dec.16, Atalanta have lost one game out of 16, winning 10.

The affair was the latest example of Atalanta possessing the kind of consistency on the pitch and decision-making off it that some of their more illustrious rivals would die for. Their rise has been a triumph of good recruitment and management over financial firepower.

As Gasperini says, Atalanta have little to prove and little to lose, but taking down European football's most decorated club would be the biggest moment yet in the remarkable story unfolding in the small Lombardy city.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Toby Davis)

Benzema, the huge tile! .
Karim Benzema is forfeited for the clash between Real Madrid and Atalanta Bergamo in the round of 16 of the Champions League. © Supplied by Football 365 Karim Benzema towards a Champions League package Real Madrid struggled to get rid of Vallaolid during the weekend in La Liga. Video: 24th d. - Zidane: "Benzema felt pain, he will not play this Saturday" (Dailymotion) A painstaking 1-0 success with difficulty in the absence of Karim Benzema, on a goal from Casemiro.

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