Exited by Ajax two years ago in the eighth, eliminated by Manchester City last season in the eighth, Real Madrid absolutely wants to see the Champions League quarter-finals this year e, and honor its status as a giant of Europe. He still has some work to do for that, but thanks to Ferland Mendy, he took an option for the next round on Wednesday evening.
Moving on the field of Atalanta Bergamo in the first leg of the round of 16, ZinÃ © dine Zidane’s men managed to achieve a short success (1-0), after having yet struggled at eleven against ten for 70 minutes. Which means they will be virtually qualified when the second leg kicks off in three weeks in Spain. A match that should however be very different from the first set.
Deprived of Benzema, Ramos, Carvajal, Marcelo, Militao, Hazard, Valverde, Rodrygo and Odriozola, which is a lot for a single team, Real were traveling in Lombardy with ambition, but without too many certainties. This did not prevent Madrid’s eleven, logically reorganized with an Isco in false number 9, from making a good start to the match. And to see the ground clear in the 17th minute of play, when Swiss Atalanta midfielder Remo Freuler was excluded – a little harshly – for a foul on the very mobile Ferland Mendy outside the box.
At first, the Spanish champion struggled to take advantage of his numerical superiority, even if Casemiro was close to cheating Gollini with a head at the very end of his first father. © period. And then when we got back from the locker room, the meeting turned to an attack-defense game. Real monopolized the ball, settled in the camp of Atalanta, Modric lit a first bit with a past strike just off the post (48th) and … that’s about it. Madrid’s domination continued, yes, but in a completely sterile way.
The replacement of Vinicius – quite interesting – by Mariano Diaz certainly did not do Real a favor, and the minutes passed, to the delight of Gian Piero Gasperini. Until the 86th minute. Until Ferland Mendy dons his savior costume.
Already “decisive” in the first half on Freuler’s red, the former Lyonnais removed a huge thorn from Madrid’s foot by rolling up a superb strike from the right, which Gollini couldn’t get out. This is his first goal in the Champions League, and it could weigh heavily in the balance …
Champions League: Mendy releases Real, who take a quarterback option against Atalanta