Ferland Mendy

Real Madrid secured a priceless away first-leg victory over Atalanta in a typical hard-fought Madrid win.

With many first-team stars missing the Champions League Round of 16 tie, Madrid struggled to create clear cut chances with 10-man Atalanta defending in numbers. 

Ferland Mendy provided the key contributions as he was fouled to attract a harsh red card for Remo Freuler in the 17th minute, before netting a crisp winner four minutes from time.

The truth is, without Karim Benzema, the Blancos are a blunt unit, and it took a thrust from distance from left-back Mendy, on his weaker right foot, to finally break the deadlock.

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The Frenchman has overtaken Marcelo as Los Blancos’ left-back and is now making himself a key component of Zidane’s tight-knit group of dependables.

“I didn’t even know how to celebrate because it was my first ever European goal,” Mendy told reporters after the final whistle. 

Ferland Mendy

In the midst of an injury crisis that has deprived Zinedine Zidane of up to nine first team players; Madrid team fought until the end and at least created the conditions for the luck to arrive.

Zidane was pleased with the game ultimately panning out in their favour despite the many absences. 

“We played a very strong team; defensively they played well. And the most important thing is the win. We didn’t concede and we know there are lots of injuries but we’re not giving many chances away.” 

The La Liga champions would be delighted with an unblemished opening tie and the chance to welcome more key players back for the home leg next month.

Squeaky bum time

Having cut Atlético Madrid’s advantage atop the La Liga standings to three points, and now earning an important away goal in the UCL Round of 16. Madrid are once again banking on the grit and consistency which pushed them to the league title last season.

Real Madrid
Real Madrid dominated territory and possession, but failed to create enough chances.

The Santiago Bernabéu side are on a five-game winning run as they face a decisive few weeks with a crunch derby clash next week. Zidane’s men perform best when faced with adversity.

Mendy had told Marca 24 hours before the game: “I don’t read much (into criticism), to be honest. I’m with Zidane to the death and we’re all with him, truly”.

After 90 minutes in Bergamo, the 25-year-old’s words have proven absolutely true. 


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.


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