It would be “total failure” for Real Madrid if they are not able to progress from their Champions League last-16 tie with Atalanta, according to Eurosport Spain’s football expert Felix Martin.
Zinedine Zidane’s side go into the match having appeared to have turned their form around with four straight wins in La Liga, but the Real boss is still under a fair amount of heat.
We have been getting Felix's views on Wednesday’s first leg in Italy.
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How much pressure is Zidane under?
The truth is that not getting through against Atalanta would be a total failure for Zidane and for Real Madrid.
If he’s not successful, you can expect the likes of AS or Marca to be pushing to get him sacked.
But the truth is, Real are in a good moment with four wins in a row. Agreed, they have huge problems scoring goals, especially without Karim Benzema, but they are second in La Liga and only three points away from Atletico Madrid.
So one positive could be that if they fail to beat Atalanta, they’d have much more time to focus on La Liga and try to win it.
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How important is the Champions League for Zidane?
The Champions League is not just important for Zidane, but for every Real Madrid fan.
Real Madrid are the kings of Europe, and supporters expect Real to get to the final rounds every year and to try to win it every year.
Are you worried about this match, given Atalanta will not hold back when attacking?
Absolutely. I can tell you as a Real Madrid fan that this match is worrying. Especially because of the available players that Zidane will have available.
If I were him, I’d try to play with a defensive line of five to try to survive in the first match, attempt to hold Atalanta up and try to get a good result in the second match.
Don’t forget, the only centre backs Zidane has available are Nacho and Raphael Varane. The defensive and offensive lines have many important players missing. That’s why it’s time for young guns like Vinicius to make an impact, and for Marcos Asensio to show that he can be the future leader for Real Madrid.
Real Madrid's Marco Asensio
Image credit: Getty Images
We know Atalanta is a bit “anarchic”, they attack a lot and forget sometimes to defend which is why Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will be important to try to control the rhythm of the match.
Atalanta tend to score around two goals per match, which is why Real will have to be focused during the game.
Who do you think will win this tie over two legs?
Hard to say. I believe that we’ll have two very different matches. The one in Bergamo will be very different from the one played in Valdebebas.
Real will have to play on Wednesday without nine players, some of which are very important for Zidane, like Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema or Eden Hazard.
We believe that at least Ramos and Benzema will be back to play the second game at home.
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