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Zinedine Zidane has warned Real Madrid that Atalanta could stun him like Ajax did two seasons ago in the Champions League.
Madrid will face the Serie A team in Bergamo on Wednesday, aiming to advance from the round of 16 for the first time in three seasons.
Manchester City gave Zidane his first knockout loss as Madrid manager in the Champions League last season, while Ajax managed a 4-1 win at the Santiago Bernabéu in 2019 when Santiago Solari was in command.
Atalanta’s bold and aggressive attacking play has led to parallels between Gian Piero Gasperini’s team and Ajax, something that Zidane addressed in his pre-match press conference.
“They can be [like Ajax]. It is a very attacking team, a team that we know, offensively, that it is very good, “he said.
“They have a lot of players in the future. Together, as a team, they are very strong physically.
“I don’t really like comparing teams, Atalanta is Atalanta, a specific team with its own style, but I can say that tomorrow will be a good football match between Atalanta and Real Madrid.”
In fact, Zidane’s main concern will be the starting eleven he will obtain from a squad devastated by injuries.
– Real Madrid CF (@realmadrid) February 23, 2021
Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard top the absentee list, while five players in their 19-man traveling group have not started a competitive game this season.
“We knew from the beginning of the season that it was going to be a very difficult season, for all teams, not just for us,” said Zidane.
“We just have to focus on our own game, who we are, what we’ve been up to lately and nothing more than that. We have prepared the game very well.
“With the difficulties that we are going to have, because we are facing a very good team, we will try to win the game, as always.”
He added: “You are talking about these injuries, but we still have a lot of good players, the players who are here.
“We always go out onto the field and try to win the game. We never went out to draw. We will never be happy with a draw ”.