Real Madrid: 5 burning questions after the 1-0 win over Real Valladolid

Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Mariano Diaz
Real Madrid, Mariano Diaz (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images) /

Can Real Madrid count on Mariano at Atalanta?

Underneath the surface of Saturday night’s match at the Jose Zorrilla, Madridistas were quietly wondering about how all of this could translate on Wednesday in the Champions League against Atalanta. Real Madrid could be forced to face Atalanta in the first leg on the road without their best attacking player – by far – in Karim Benzema, who was injured last weekend in the 2-0 win over Valencia.

Los Blancos have only one backup striker after loaning Luka Jovic to Eintracht Frankfurt. And what’s funny is that this backup, Mariano Diaz, was supposed to leave on loan in the summer 2020 transfer window.

Mariano impressed with an early goal against Villarreal a couple of months ago, but he’s been genuinely poor since then. Although he got more involved against Valladolid than in his previous appearances, including the embarrassing loss to Alcoyano, Mariano still didn’t do much of note against Valladolid. He had three dribbles completed but also lost the ball four times, was called offsides twice, and joined Asensio in creating no key passes.

Real Madrid need their No. 9 to be more active and consistent in front of goal. Mariano has failed in both aspects to this point of the 2020-2021 season. If Benzema cannot play against Atalanta, Mariano needs to have his best game in ages, otherwise the defense will face immense pressure to hold Atalanta’s fiery attack to a clean sheet.