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, Isco
Real Madrid, Isco (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

CB Nacho

I don’t think Nacho will start, but if Real Madrid go with a back three again to counter Atalanta’s formation, we could see him out there. Nacho was great in the first leg and seemed to take to the back three well against Elche, driving up the pitch constantly. He’s a big-time asset for Real right now.

LB Marcelo

We haven’t seen Marcelo since the win over Getafe due to injury, but he could be an X-Factor if he’s healthy enough to play. Marcelo was a maestro in midfield in that “back three” formation, and I wonder if we could see him again in a playmaking role as a bit of a chess-play from Zizou.

AM Isco

Isco played as a “false nine” against Atalanta in the first leg, but I was more impressed with his performance against Real Sociedad in the first half a couple of weeks ago. He could be a game-changer off the bench or even a surprise starter against Atalanta, helping to throw the defense into disarray with his movement on and off the ball.

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LW Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard is a good bet to be an impact sub if Real Madrid feel they could use his star power at the end of the match. We all remember the positive influence he had in this role against Borussia Monchengladbach early in the Champions League campaign when Los Blancos were struggling. But at the end of the day, the biggest key with Hazard is his long-term health.

Update: Eden Hazard is injured again and is expected to miss a month. So he will not be playing against Atalanta. It is another unfortunate setback for the Belgian.