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Atalanta BC and Valencia head into the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with both clubs acknowledging that they have been provided with an excellent opportunity to make further progress in the competition.
While Atalanta currently sit in fourth position in Serie A, Valencia find themselves down in seventh spot in La Liga.
At the midway point of the group stages, Atalanta were struggling to secure a place in the Europa League after suffering three successive defeats in their first-ever campaign in this competition.
However, a comeback draw at home to Manchester City acted as the catalyst for a remarkable turnaround, which was completed with victories and clean sheets against Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk respectively.
While Gian Piero Gasperini’s team needed other results to go their way, they deserve their place in the last 16 and are regarded as one of the dark horses to make further progress in the coming months.
Five wins and two draws from their last eight outings in Serie A have moved Gli Orobici into fourth spot, while they are outscoring the three teams who sit above them in the table.
Providing that they can keep things tight at the back, the likes of Josip Ilicic, Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata have the quality to ensure that Atalanta break more new ground with an appearance in the quarter-finals.
Although Valencia are no strangers to reaching the latter stages of European competitions, the Spanish giants are underdogs heading into this tie after their inconsistent domestic form.
While four points have recently been earned from games against Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, they have also suffered heavy defeats at Mallorca and Getafe.
Albert Celades has also witnessed his side exit the Copa del Rey to Granada, after initially requiring penalties to edge past minnows Cultural Leonesa in the last 16.
Having topped a group which included Chelsea and Ajax, however, Celades will feel that his team have the beating of anyone, and they may relish the tag of outsiders heading into the next phase of this tournament.
ATN VS VAL: Match timing and details
The game will be played on 20th February 2020 at 01:30 AM. The venue is San Siro, the home stadium of Atalanta. The live scores and scoreboard details will be available on the official websites.
ATN VS VAL: Recent form
ATN VS VAL: Head-to-head
These two squads are locking horns for the first time.
ATN VS VAL: Predicted starting lineup
Atalanta: Gollini; Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti; Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Gomez, Ilicic; Zapata.
Valencia: Domenech; Gaya, Diakhaby, Mangala, Wass; Parejo, Coquelin, Torres, Soler; Gomez, Rodrigo.
ATN VS VAL: Best players
Atalanta: Alejandro Gomez
Alejandro Gomez was quite breathtaking last season as his 18 direct contributions (seven goals, 11 assists) helped La Dea achieve Champions League football for the first time since the club’s inception 112 years ago.
This would not prove a flash in the pan season for the skipper who has consistently shone in the blue and black-stained hue of Atalanta colours, and he has carried that form over to this campaign, popping up with 16 Serie A contributions (six goals, 10 assists).
Valencia will have to be on their best form defensively if they are to stand any chance of keeping the Argentine marvel at bay.
Key stat: Gomez has registered more assists in Serie A this season than any other Atalanta player (10).
The Brazil-born Spain international has been a real force in the final third for Valencia since relocating to the Mestalla from Benfica six years ago, with his 14 direct La Liga contributions last season (eight goals, six assists) being a key reason why the club secured the final Champions League qualification place.
Likewise his goals have proven imperative this season, particularly in this competition, with the 28-year-old netting the winner against Chelsea on matchweek one, and later sealing the all-important decider against Ajax in that dramatic final game to seal the club’s progress to this point.
Such has been the form of Rodrigo that Barcelona were heavily courting the lethal forward during the January transfer window as they went in search of reinforcements to alleviate the void of Luis Suarez, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury and could miss the rest of the season, but the Catalan side’s interest was reportedly rebuffed by Valencia who refused to budge on their asking price.
b: Rodrigo has registered more assists than any other Valencia player in La Liga this season (seven).
ATN VS VAL: Predicted Dream11 Team
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