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Benzema propels Real to the quarterfinals

Thanks to the French center-forward, the Spanish club eliminated Atalanta Bergamo 3 goals to 1 Tuesday in the round of 16 of the Champions League. Head to the quarter-finals.

Thanks to the French center-forward, the Spanish club eliminated Atalanta Bergamo 3 goals to 1 Tuesday in the round of 16 of the Champions League. Head to the quarter-finals.

(AFP) Real initially suffered in the face of enthusiastic Atalanta, who came to play his luck in Madrid. But the inevitable French center-forward, Karim Benzema, delivered Zidane and propelled his team towards the quarters, by sending into the Italian nets a ball recovered then offered on a plate by Luka Modric (34th).

Captain Sergio Ramos, who returned from left knee surgery last week, then increased the gap on the penalty spot (60th), before Luis Muriel’s pointless goal at the end of the match (83rd) and the immediate reply from Marco Asensio (85th).

After two disappointing European campaigns, it’s finally the right one for “Zizou”: the Marseillais, triple winner of the C1 between 2016 and 2018 with Real, had not passed the stage of the knockout stages since his return to the bench “Merengue” in March 2019 (defeated by Ajax Amsterdam in 2019, then by Manchester City in 2020).


Zinedine Zidane has opted for his usual defense, three central.

Zinedine Zidane has opted for his usual defense, three central.

Photo: AFP

And it was his two most reliable henchmen, absent on the first leg, who offered him this new qualification.

The unusual three-center defense (with Sergio Ramos, Raphaël Varane and Nacho) was nothing new, since Zidane had already tested this device in 3-5-2 against Elche on Saturday in La Liga (2-1 success) and against Getafe early February (2-0 success). But a risky tactical bet in a cleaver match, while his team is established in the traditional 4-3-3.


The strategy of the coach of Real seems to be paying off.

The strategy of the coach of Real seems to be paying off.

Photo: AFP

Fortunately, his savior Benzema (in sparkling form since returning from a groin injury in early March) proved him right. And could even have salted the bill on this double occasion of the head (67th). “I have no savior costume,” however, refuted “KB9” Monday at a press conference.

“We are a team. I play at a position where I am the one who has to finish the actions. So good if I can help my team. Today, we see a lot of players playing in big clubs at a very high level up to 30, 34, even 39 years old. I am prepared for this. And I will continue like this, ”he said the day before the match.

Distanced in the league and eliminated from the national cup, the “White House” can therefore cling to this qualification to show that it still holds its place on the continental scene.

Atalanta’s disappointment

For Atalanta, this elimination is a small disappointment … even if Gian Piero Gasperini and his men feared it, after the 1-0 setback in the first leg with the premature expulsion of Remo Freuler.

“A little disappointed because we couldn’t play our best game. But clearly, the overall Champions League experience has been very positive. We gleaned 11 points in the group stage against very strong teams. I think we have learned a lot more this season than the previous one, ”Gasperini said positively at a press conference.


Despite an aggressive defense during the first quarter of an hour, Atalanta was no match for Real

Despite an aggressive defense during the first quarter of an hour, Atalanta was no match for Real

Photo: AFP

The “Dea” could have hoped for better, as she attacked Real at home during the first quarter of an hour, including a big opportunity missed by Robin Gosens in front of Thibaut Courtois (3rd).

But it is Real, the first Spanish club to qualify for the quarterfinals, which has signed its return to the forefront of the European stage. What galvanize him, before the final sprint for the title in La Liga? “Yes, we will try (to make the Liga-C1 double)! Why would that be impossible? We are here for that ”, slipped Zidane after the match.


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