Real Madrid: 5 players who must shine against Atalanta in the first leg

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Real Madrid, Casemiro

Real Madrid, Casemiro (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Real Madrid have a pivotal Champions League fixture coming up this Wednesday night in Bergamo, as Los Blancos will travel to face Atalanta in the first leg of the Round of 16.

They must get a favorable result without striker Karim Benzema, who has been ruled out with an injury he suffered against Valencia. Benzema is Real’s leading scorer and assist provider, and he’s been their most crucial attacking player for three seasons running. Replacing him is a daunting task for Los Blancos, especially with their best starting wide forwards, Rodrgyo Goes and Eden Hazard, still out with longer-term injuries.

Atalanta are in a Champions League slot in a tight Serie A, and they have what it takes to make life extremely difficult for Real Madrid. Luis Muriel and Co. are coming off a big 4-2 win over Napoli this weekend, while Los Blancos barely scraped by a bottom-table side in La Liga in Real Valladolid over the weekend.

Here is a look at five players on Real Madrid who will need to be at their best against Atalanta this week. An away goal is at stake for the Royal Whites, so a 0-0 draw, for example, would be as good as a loss. That puts even more focus on the forwards.

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