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, Mariano Diaz
Real Madrid, Mariano Diaz (Photo by Ricardo Nogueira/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images) /

ST Mariano Diaz

Mariano Diaz scored an early goal against Villarreal on Nov. 21 in La Liga, but he has gone silent in the months since then. The 27-year-old striker was supposed to leave the club on loan this summer, but Mariano elected to stay at Real Madrid again. He has always worked hard to fight for his spot, and he earned some supporters in the second-half of the 2019-2020 season with a magical goal against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, Madridistas do not believe Mariano has the quality to remain with the team, and he is all but guaranteed to leave this summer. Mariano has one last shot at proving himself to supporters. He has been a liability at striker this season for Los Blancos, including playing a role as one of the worst performers on the pitch in that embarrassing Copa del Rey exit to Alcoyano.

Mariano has qualities, though. He could have scored twice against Real Valladolid if he had remained onside, for example. And while he ended up being on the periphery of the game after the first 30 minutes, he did at least try to get involved before fading out of the match.

On Wednesday night, Mariano needs to step up. If he plays poorly, Real Madrid might not score a goal. If he gets involved, stays onside, and keeps moving and processing Atalanta’s tactical gameplan to find weaknesses, there will be opportunities for him to create goals and even score one himself. He is under the microscope more than any other Madrid player.