Real take on Atalanta in last 16


Agencies

A highly-anticipated showdown in the last 16 of the Champions League takes place on Wednesday as Atalanta BC welcome Real Madrid to the Gewiss Stadium for the first leg.

GianPieroGasperini's side finished second in Group D to book their spot in the knockout stages, while Real Madrid ultimately topped Group B after a shaky start to proceedings.

Had this fixture been played five years ago, Real Madrid would have been expected to sweep aside their Italian counterparts on their way to yet another European crown. However, Atalanta's meteoric rise has their fanbase believing that a shot at continental glory is certainly on the cards.

Atalanta's only confirmed absentee through injury at the minute is right-wing back Hans Hateboer, and his deputy JoakimMaehle shrugged off previous fitness concerns to play 90 minutes against Napoli.

Two of Gasperini's back three in Cristian Romero and BeratDjimsiti are walking a tightrope with two bookings apiece, so Jose Luis Palomino is ready to be called upon if the hosting manager does not risk either player being banned for the second leg.

La Dea have a wealth of talent in their midfield ranks and Gasperini has a big call to make when it comes to who will play behind Zapata and Muriel, but Josip Ilicic could get the nod ahead of Matteo Pessina.

In stark contrast, Real Madrid's infirmary is at full capacity right now, and the visitors were dealt a further blow ahead of this match with Karim Benzema - the Champions League's fifth-highest goalscorer - confirmed to be missing through injury.

The Frenchman joins the likes of Eden Hazard, Rodrygo, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Eder Militao, Daniel Carvajal and Federico Valverde in the treatment room, while Casemiro is one yellow card away from a suspension.

With only 12 recognised senior players in the squad for the trip to Italy, Zidane's XI picks itself for the first leg.