The Champions League has witnessed impressive comebacks the past few years, and Valencia is looking for another Tuesday evening. They have a mountain to climb after a 4-1 loss at Atalanta’s and have just won in their last seven in all competitions. If only they’d had the advantage of a home crowd backing them, one might have imagined a comeback.
With the game being played behind closed doors due to coronavirus, it is very hard to picture Valencia taking out the Italians. Coach Albert Celades faces a centre-back shortage as Gabriel Paulista is suspended, Garay is injured and Mangala is a doubt. This opens up for Coquelin to deputize in defence with Kondogbia coming into the midfield.
Only one of their three home games in the group stages brought a win this season. Beating Lyon while losing to Ajax and drawing with Chelsea was enough to see them through. They need a much more focused display to get through to the next round. Atalanta began the competition with three defeats and 11 goals conceded. From looking on their way out of the competition they are now on the verge of the quarterfinals. They earned seven points from their last three games to reach the knock-out stages.
The first leg against Valencia saw them score four goals inside the first 62 minutes. Perhaps being slightly disappointed they left it at four goals, they slaughtered Lecce with seven goals in the following match. They come into this game having won five of their last six competitive matches. While Valencia has still had to play in the La Liga, Atalanta even has the advantage of a small break.
The Serie A lay still due to the coronavirus, so they come into this fresh in mind and body. Centre-back Rafael Toloi is the only injury worry for coach Gasperini. January signing Sutalo is not registered to play here. Having not started in the first leg, January signing Zapata should get the nod up front this time after scoring a hat-trick at Lecce.
Atalanta is the top scorers in Serie A and their Champions League matches have also produced no shortage of goals. Valencia needs to go on the attack from the start which will present opportunities on the counter for the visitors’ dangerous attack. It would defy all kinds of logic if this match does not see a string of goals.