By: Hector Duran
Moneyline: ATL (+130); RMA (+195); Draw (+260)
Spread: ATL 0, -0.5 (EVEN); RMA 0, +0.5 (-120)
Total: O 3.0 (+105); U 3.0 (-125)
Kick Off: 2pm CST; Stadio di Bergamo; Bergamo, Italy
The squad from Italia comes in coming off a nice 4-2 win over Napoli. Atalanta currently sits 5th in the table in Serie A but only 6 points back of 2nd place. They have been headed by the duo of Colombian nationals in Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata who have 14 goals and 9 goals, respectively. In all competitions in the month of February, the club has scored 11 goals in 5 matches which means that the offense is clicking. Pierluigi Gollini has been the man between the pipes and he has 5 clean sheets in 15 appearances in the Serie A campaign and looks to keep it rolling against Real Madrid.
Real Madrid comes into the knockout round having won 4 in a row in La Liga play. The bad news is that they are crippled with injuries. The Frenchman striker, Karim Benzema, will not be playing- he was listed as doubtful but it is now confirmed that he is not even making the trip to the Bel Paese so the Spanish club will be short handed up front. They will also be missing the support on the defense as Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, & Marcelo will all not be playing. Somehow, despite the injuries, they are only 3 points back of the current leaders in Atletico Madrid. The skipper, Zinedine Zidane, will have his hands full in coming up with a game plan for his team to compete in this first leg.
Analysis & Best Bet
The trends say that Real Madrid has had recent success on the road against an Italian opposition as they have won their last 5 Champions League Games but I think that will end today. The injuries to the Spanish club, especially on the defense, will not help this team. With that being said, I am taking the over 1.5 team goals for Atalanta at -110. The attack of Atalanta as of late has been scoring in bunches and I don’t see Real Madrid being able to contain them. I am excited to see this game in how it plays out but I will ultimately give the upper hand to the Italians.