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

Real Madrid, Casemiro (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Casemiro (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Lucas Vazquez
Real Madrid, Lucas Vazquez (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

RB Lucas Vazquez

We begin with Real Madrid right back Lucas Vazquez, who will get the start on the right-hand side of the defense with Dani Carvajal injured again. Carvajal aggravated a muscular issue in that Valencia game, leaving Vazquez as the top option at right back.

The Galician winger has been a very good right back in several appearances this season, including in must-win matchups against Borussia Monchengladbach and Atletico Madrid. But Vazquez has also been embarrassed at the unfamiliar position, as he made crucial errors in the Supercup loss to Athletic Club and was spotty defensively in Real’s second defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.

Vazquez is getting better at right back, though, and he’s always going to provide loads of running for the Royal Whites. The 29-year-old had a whopping seven tackles and three interceptions over the weekend at Real Valladolid, per, and he’s had 13 key passes in his last five matches in La Liga for an average of 2.6 key passes per game.

Going up against one of Atalanta’s three best players in Robin Gosens on their left-hand side, Vazquez is a real X-Factor for Real Madrid on Wednesday night. Gosens has 11 goal contributions this season and is a force to be reckoned with.