Atalanta vs Valencia Predictions and Champions League Round of 16 Preview
When Atalanta and Valencia clash at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milano, it will mark the first-ever meeting between the Italian and Spanish clubs. In the group stage, both teams had to eek their way through the six games to book their spot in the Round of 16. Valencia claimed the top spot in Group H with 11 points, tied with Chelsea and one point better than Ajax. Similarly, Atalanta had to claw their way to a second-place finish and qualify on seven points, one point better than Shakhtar and two points better than Zagreb.
Valencia has not won the Champions League in their clubs' history, but they have lost two finals, in back-to-back seasons (1999/00 and 00/01). They lost to Real Madrid 3-1 in their first Finals appearance before losing to Bayern Munich 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time.
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As for Atalanta, they have not yet tasted European success despite being around since 1914. They have a quarterfinal and semi-final appearance in the European Cup back in 1987/88 and 1990/91, respectively. This is the furthest they've progressed in the Champions League, and anything beyond would be gravy for this club.
As it currently stands, bookmakers have Atalanta listed as -180 to advance to the quarter-finals.
They are also +10000 to win the entire tournament, but with the attacking brand of football they play, I wouldn't count them out of any game thus giving them a chance to make some noise. If you believe that Valencia can at least get back to the finals, you can take a shot on them at +10000 to win the entire tournament - which is tied for the third-longest shot on the board. Or you can grab +125 on them to advance to the quarterfinals. If you need help deciding, Doc's offers up a great soccer service for you that runs almost 24/7/365. You can sign up now by clicking here.
First Leg: Giuseppe Meazza, Milano; Wednesday, February 19 @ 3:00 pm
Second Leg: Mestalla, Valencia; Tuesday, March 10 @ 3:00 pm
To most, Atalanta's success would be one of the more pleasant surprises of this Serie A season. However, for those who follow Italian football closely, their success is nothing more than the result of playing some great football. Atalanta loves to attack and score goals and can do so with the best Italian teams out there today. While they may not be in the race for the title, they've scored 63 goals, which is tops in the league. Atalanta comes into this game having won three of their last four competitive matches and scored 13 goals in those games. We expect them to be able to take the fight to Valencia, especially at home, where the Italian side has netted half of their goals this season. From a team perspective, there are essentially no fitness worries for the coach to deal with as Atalanta come into this game in great form and great fitness.
Possible Starting XI: Gollini; Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti; Hateboer, Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Gomez; Ilicic, Zapata
Valencia comes into this contest in poor form, having lost two of their last three games while managing to find the back of the net just three times. On the road, Valencia is especially poor, having lost three of their last five games, with those two wins coming against lower division sides in domestic cup competitions. Somehow, this is the same Valencia team that topped the group with Chelsea and Ajax in it, knocking the latter out of the tournament completely.
From a team news perspective, Valencia has plenty to be worried about the fitness of several key first-team regulars. Players like Gabriel Paulista and Ezequiel Garay are both missing through suspension and injury, respectively, while Francis Coquelin and Rodrigo Moreno are also battling the clock to get healthy for this game. Should both of these players miss, Valencia will be in a ton of trouble to contain the high-flying Atalanta attack.
Possible Starting XI: Cillessen; Florenzi, Diakhaby, Mangala, Gaya; Torres, Parejo, Kondogbia, Soler; Gomez, Guedes
Atalanta vs Valencia Predictions
Atalanta is the favorite in this two-legged fixture, and rightfully so. They play a beautiful, but chaotic brand of football that is predicated on getting forward and scoring plenty of goals. One would think that this style of play is not suited for a two-legged knockout fixture, but I believe it's perfect. In order to advance, you must eventually score a goal. Atalanta can do that with the best teams in the world (they lead Serie A in goals, over the likes of Inter and Juventus), And Valencia, with their poor form, have no shot at stopping them or keeping up offensively. Valencia doesn't travel well, so a comfortable 3-0 win in the first leg (Atalanta -0.5 -140) will get the ball rolling and place one foot in the quarterfinals. Take Atalanta to advance at -180 as well.
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