Real Madrid: 3 MOTM candidates against Atalanta

Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior
Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images) /

LW Vinicius Junior

We begin with a forward and not a defender. Vinicius Junior is in the best form of any of Real Madrid’s forwards heading into this first Champions League knockout stage match for the Royal Whites. Although that’s not saying much, considering that Karim Benzema is unlikely to play and Marco Asensio was horrible again at Real Valladolid over the weekend, Vini could hold the key to victory on Wednesday night.

The 20-year-old Brazilian wasn’t great, in truth, at Valladolid himself, but he was quite good in the previous three matchups against Huesca, Getafe, and Valencia. According to, Vinicius drew at least three fouls in each of those three matchups, including four dribbles completed at Huesca. And against Getafe, Vini put in a cross to Karim Benzema for his second assist of the league campaign.

Vini holds the key to Real’s success in the Champions League Round of 16 with Eden Hazard and Rodrygo Goes injured. And even when those guys return, Vinicius will still play a key role for Los Blancos, as he did in the group stages against Inter Milan with his decisive assist to fellow Brazilian youngster Rodrygo.

Atalanta have vulnerabilities in defense, and Vinicius can exploit them with his non-stop running into the box. He is one of La Liga’s top 10 players in terms of runs into the penalty area, per