Valencia vs Atalanta (Agg: 1-4)
Estadio Mestalla, Valencia
Tuesday, 10-03-2020 @11pm
Ref: Ovidiu Hategan (Rom)
Valencia were surprisingly beaten 4-1 by Atalanta in their Champions League round of 16 first leg three weeks ago, leaving the Spanish side on the brink of elimination.
On Tuesday, the two sides face off in the return leg with Valencia hoping for a miracle of sorts so as to reach the last 8.
Valencia have a few key players missing for the game against Atalanta on Tuesday night. Star striker Maxi Gomez is ruled out with an injury, along with defenders Eliaquim Mangala, Cristiano Piccini and Ezequiel Garay. Gabriel Paulista missed the first leg due to suspension, but is available for this tie. However, he has been left out of the squad announced by the manager.
Berat Djimsiti missed Atalanta’s last game against Lecce, but is expected to be fit and available for the contest. His partner Rafael Toloi also did not feature last time out and question marks persist over his availability. January signing Bosko Sutalo hasn’t been registered and hence is ineligible to play.
Only 4/36 sides to have lost their first leg by 3+ goals have qualified for the next round of this competition. Atalanta have scored 2+ goals in their last three UCL games. The visitors have scored 24 goals across their last six matches. Valencia have conceded 2+ goals in five of their last seven games.
In the first leg, Atalanta became only the third team to score four goals in their first-ever Champions League knockout match, after Manchester United (4-0 v FC Porto in 1996-97) and opponents Valencia (5-2 v Lazio in 1999-00).
That incredible showing has set Valencia an almost impossible task in this second leg. Only four of the previous 36 teams to lose the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie by three or more goals have then progressed. Can Valencia equal that incredible feat this week?
Atalanta are out to match a record of their own this week, however. They could become the first Champions League debutants to reach the last eight of the competition since Leicester in 2016/17.
But it’s Ajax who this Atalanta side have been compared to the most. They could match the Dutch side’s run to the last four in 2019, playing the same kind of fearless, attacking football.
There’s quite a contrast in their records of late. Since scoring with three of their last four shots against Lille in November, Valencia have scored with just four of their last 44 efforts at goal in the Champions League (9.1%).
Atalanta scored with six of their first 29 shots on target in the Champions League this season but have since found the net with six of their last eight, including their last four shots on target in their 4-1 win in the first leg. That’s seen them score twice in three straight matches in this competition.
The other game to be played on Tuesday
-RB Leipzig vs Tottenham Hotspur @11pm