Real Madrid managed to edge past a 10 man Atalanta in the first leg of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 fixture.
Real Madrid emerged victorious in the first leg of the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League as they defeated Atalanta on Wednesday. The match ended with a scoreline of 1-0 in favour of the Merengues courtesy of a fine goal scored by Ferland Mendy in the dying moments of the game.
At the Gewiss Stadium, both sides were off to a strong start as they kept each other under constant pressure in the first 15 minutes of the game. The visitors were handed a numerical advantage in the game after Remo Freuler‘s tackle on Ferland Mendy earned him a straight red card in the 17th-minute mark. Despite playing with a man short, the Black and Blues prevented Madrid from taking the lead in the first half.
In the second half, Los Blancos did try to unsettle the hosts with a few line-breaking passes but were unsuccessful to make inroads into the Atalanta box. The likes of Isco and Vinicius Junior were denied the opportunity from putting the ball into the net as the hosts made some crucial blocks in their penalty box.
Ferland Mendy stepped up in a crucial moment for Zinedine Zidane‘s side as he struck a curling shot into the bottom right corner of the goal to take a 1-0 lead over 10 man Atalanta. Gasperini’s men were unable to reply with an equaliser and hence had to succumb to a home defeat after full time.
Real Madrid would be happy with their result in the first leg of this tie and will now look to seal their place in the quarterfinals after the return leg on March 16th. Let’s take a look at the talking points from this fixture.
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ANOTHER DEFENSIVE MASTERCLASS BY REAL MADRID
On Wednesday, Real Madrid had put up a solid defensive display against Atalanta. The Merengues backline had one of their best games in the Champions League as they not only acquired a clean sheet but also were robust at the back end of the pitch. Both Raphael Varane and Nacho Fernadez were extremely tidy throughout the 90 minutes as they made vital tackles in their half to avoid any breach from their opponents.
Ferland Mendy was the best performer in this defence as the Frenchman put up an outstanding shift on all ends of the pitch. His goal ensured that Real get a slight edge over the Gasperini’s side ahead of their second leg in March. On the other end, Lucas Vazquez performed a commendable job as he made good progress upfront and had played a vital role in this important win.
Zidane’s side have now kept four clean-sheets in a row and therefore have improved as a defensive unit in the last couple of weeks.