Keep the fairytale going. If we went one by one, Valencia probably have more individual quality than their rivals, but the structure of Atalanta is more elaborated as Gasperini has been at Bergamo since 2016. He took them to the Champions League for the first time in their history, and in the group stage they performed a great feat after winning none of their first three matches.
Valencia also showed their competitiveness in a group with Chelsea, Ajax and Lille and rightfully earned a spot in this round. Now, though, they carry many injuries. Rodrigo and Coquelin aren’t available, as well as their best centre-backs, Garay and Gabriel Paulista. Diakhaby doesn’t transmit security and Mangala has played very little, even if they will have to try and stop the liquid and ultra-offensive football of the Italians.
La Dea by far is the most goalscoring side in the Serie A (63 goals) and have a golden opportunity to continue making history. They are a very recognisable side and, as Pep expressed, “a great joy to watch”. High pressing, agile ball circulation, fast pace, and many players occupyinng attacking zones. The delightful Iličić and Papu Gómez make them even more fun. They understand spaces like few others and combine wonderfully with Zapata.
In front they will have Los Ches’ 19-year-old wonderkid Ferran Torres. It looks like Luis Enrique wants him to perform in big games in order to go to the Euros with Spain, and, after a brutal exhibition against Atleti, he will be looking to translate his form to the UCL. If Atalanta tend to struggle against anyone, that’s against players that dribble – like Ferran.
P o s s i b l e X I s
A t a l a n t a
Hateboer · Tolou · Palomino · Djimsiti · Gosens
De Roon · Freuler
Iličić · Zapata · Papu Gómez
V a l e n c i a
Wass · Diakhaby · Mangala · Gayà
Ferran Torres · Parejo · Kondogbia · Carlos Soler
Maxi Gómez · Guedes