Real Madrid vs. Atalanta: Breaking down expectations for each player

Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Karim Benzema
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

LW Vinicius Junior

I know Eden Hazard played about 15 injury-free minutes against Elche, but I don’t think Zinedine Zidane will push it quite yet. We should see Vinicius Junior start again, and he played reasonably well before making way for Hazard on Saturday. Vini’s been solid since the start of February, running at defenders and doing his best to make things happen. He was Real’s best forward in the first leg, though it is fair to say that the entire attack was anemic.

CF Karim Benzema

That Real Madrid defeated Atalanta on the road without Karim Benzema is a huge accomplishment. His goal against Atletico Madrid, while visibly not 100 percent fit, and his brace to save the game vs. Elche are clear reminders of his importance and quality. Benzema will make an impact in all phases and cause Atalanta’s back three massive headaches. He is unlike anyone they have faced to this point, and it will show on Tuesday night. The upgrade from Mariano Diaz to Benzema is the biggest reason for Madridistas to be optimistic about advancement this year.

RW Rodrygo Goes

Marco Asensio was eschewed from the starting lineup over the weekend and should not start against Atalanta. Rodrygo has been marvelous in the Champions League, and his return to the competition could be almost as huge to Real Madrid as Benzema’s return. The left wing spot is better for Rodrygo, but with no better option on the right, I think that’s where we will see Rodrygo.