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Real Madrid into the Champions League quarter-finals


An empty, windy Di Stéfano stadium saw Real Madrid head into the Champions League quarter-finals, which is the equivalent of ensuring pass marks in this edition of Europe's premier club football tournament. Atalanta ended up on the end of a resounding 4-1 aggregate scoreline. Getting to the last eight was more than might have been expected after the side's disastrous start in the group stage. But Zidane, with his easy-going, steady style, has since been producing results based around the efforts of his old guard, with little help from the new signings. From them the exception has to be made for Vinicius, who once again ran around like mad and created danger, although he failed to finish the chances he made.

Zidane put out cover for Casemiro

Zidane stared with three central defenders. He was clearly worried his stand-in defensive midfielder would forget to drop back at the key points, so started with three. Atalanta came out pushing high up the pitch and Madrid struggled to deal with the pressure, but the Italian pressure produced no more than a single chance, early on. Halfway through the first half, Madrid settled and started moving the ball about nicely. Above all Modric, who reads the game so well. What's more, yesterday, he had the foresight to pick off a bad pass from the Atalanta goalkeeper Sportiello which he then passed to Benzema to make it 1-0. The Frenchman is always there.

Real Madrid through, now it's Atlético Madrid's turn

After that it was a piece of cake for Real Madrid. Atalanta were finished with Benzema's goal. They made an effort, but it only left space for Vinicius to run into and he magnificently made the most of it. He had a superb run that was inches away from finishing with a goal, and then drew the penalty that Sergio Ramos slotted home to make it 2-0. Zidane took him off when he could have most enjoyed the game, which I thought was a shame. Atalanta, thanks to their pure insistence, got their goal, which was instantly responded to by Asensio, who had just come on, after some tireless play from Lucas Vázquez. Madrid are through and today, Wednesday, it's Atlético's turn to blow away the pessimism we've felt in this edition of the Champions League when evaluating the standing of the sides from LaLiga.