Champions League last 16: Atalanta vs Real Madrid


The team news:

Atalanta will be missing defender Hans Hateboer via injury, but have an otherwise fit squad to choose from.

Real Madrid’s issues are much more severe; Karim Benzema will miss Wednesday’s game with injury, joining Sergio Gamos, Marcelo, Eder Militao, Dani Carvajal, Federico Valverde, Rodrygo and Eden Hazard on the sidelines.

The form: Atalanta secured a third consecutive win as they saw off Napoli 4-2 to climb to fourth in Serie A.

Real Madrid are still on a winning streak: four in a row has raised the spotlight on Atletico at the La Liga summit.

Real Madrid forward Eden Hazard (AP image)

What to watch out for:

Real Madrid are the most successful team in the competition with 13 wins and won three in a row between 2016 and 2018. However after that victory over Liverpool three years ago, they have struggled to make it past the round of 16 and, if reports in Spain are to be believed, this rivalry is crucial for Zinedine Zidane’s future.

Ajax and Man City have proven too powerful at this point during the past two campaigns and in Atalanta this time, Zidane will know they are facing an up and coming outfit. The Italians won at Anfield in November and were within touching distance of the quarter-finals last year.

Another man under investigation, Eden Hazard, may return after his current injury setback. His employer will hope he will eventually find health and form.

UCL key dates

Round of 16 first legs: February 16/17/23/24

Round of 16 second legs: March 9/10/16/17

Quarter-final and semi-final draws: March 19

Quarter-finals first legs: April 6/7

Quarter-finals second legs: April 13/14

Semi-finals first legs: April 27/28

Semi-finals second legs: May 4/5

Final: May 29 (Atatürk Olympic Stadium)

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