Serial Uefa Champions League winners Real Madrid make their entrance in this season’s knockout stage as they meet Atalanta on Wednesday.
The pair clash for their first leg in Bergamo as Los Blancos attempt to secure a first European crown since 2018, with the relative minnows standing in their way at the Gewiss Stadium.
Real had an imperfect time of it in Group B despite finishing top of the pool.
Zinedine Zidane’s men were beaten twice en route to edging out Borussia Monchengladbach, Shakhtar Donetsk and another Italian side, Inter Milan, who endured a miserable run to finish bottom.
A host of modern day Galacticos are ruled out through injury for Real including Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo.
Karim Benzema is also a cause for concern, with the striker nursing a muscle injury ahead of the trip to Italy.
Dani Carvajal, Rodrygo and Federico Valverde are all members of the crocked list, too, leaving Zidane with limited options.
Atalanta were handed a tough draw to kick off their Champions League journey, in a Group D including 2019 winners Liverpool and Ajax.
But Gian Piero Gasperini’s side finished strongly to nudge the Dutch club into third, as the English Premier League topped the pile and minnows FC Midtjylland finished fourth.
Papu Gomez was one of the stars of the group stage for the Italians but was sold to Sevilla in the January transfer window.
Only Hans Hateboer is injured for the first leg, with Cristian Romero and Berat Djimsiti treading on eggshells thanks to being one booking away from suspension.
Atalanta vs Real Madrid: Prediction
Prediction methodology explained: The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team’s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing.
Atalanta vs Real Madrid: UCL starting XI prediction
Probable Atalanta Starting XI: Pierluigi Gollini, Rafael Toloi, Cristian Romero, Berat Djimsiti, Joakim Maehle, Marten de Roon, Remo Freuler, Robin Gosens, Josep Ilicic, Luis Muriel, Duvan Zapata.
Probable Real Madrid Starting XI: Thibaut Courtois, Lucas Vazquez, Raphael Varane, Nacho, Ferland Mendy, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior.