Real Madrid travel to Italy tomorrow evening to face Atalanta in the last 16 first leg of the Champions League. Los Blancos won their group in the previous phase of the competition, finishing two points clear of both Borussia Monchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk and four points clear of Inter.
Madrid’s form has improved after a shaky start to the season. They’ve won four straight in La Liga and now sit on the shoulder of league leaders Atletico Madrid, just three points behind.
Atalanta sit fifth in Serie A, ten points off league leaders Inter. They came through a Champions League group including Liverpool, Ajax and Midtjylland, finishing two points behind Liverpool, four clear of Ajax and nine clear of Midtjylland.
Madrid are, however, coming into the game with a spate of injuries. They’ll be without key men including Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard and their inspirational captain Sergio Ramos, to name a few. They’re short nine senior players in total.
“There’s no explanation,” Zinedine Zidane said pre-match in comments carried by Diario AS when asked about the spate of injuries. “We’re all sorry to have so many injured players, and it’s true that we have a lot of casualties. That’s the situation we have today, but we’re well prepared.
“Our ambition is to do our best. As soon as we step on the pitch we want to win, every game is important. Tomorrow is a final, as Toni [Kroos] said. There’s a second leg, but we want to win.”