Conor Clancy Date: 24th February 2021 at 2:21pm
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Gian Piero Gasperini isn’t thinking too much about Real ’s injury absences, and he knows that his Atalanta will have to be at their very best against the Spanish champions on Wednesday.

Real Madrid visit on Wednesday evening in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie without as many as nine first-team players – including , Eden , Dani Carvajal, and – but Gasperini isn’t focused on those who won’t be there.

“Real Madrid transform in the Champions League,” Gasperini said at his pre-match press conference. “They showed their character against .

“I don’t believe in their absences. They’ve had some talent taken away, but we saw a more humble Real Madrid on Sunday and they still have quality.

“They’ve picked up some difficult wins, they’ve climbed up the table during a tough period, and that shows their level.

“It will be a complicated match on Wednesday, and we’ll have to play it in the right way. We have to play the match with confidence.”

Gasperini will come up against Zinedine Zidane on the opposite bench, but the Italian is relieved that his players won’t have to face the Frenchman as a player.

“If he were to play I’d be very worried,” Gasperini joked, “but luckily he’ll stay on the bench.

“When he played for Juventus I was in charge of the Primavera. I often went to watch his team. I find it hard to compare him to others.

“Then, as a coach, he wanted to win and went about things the right way. He has shown that football is in his DNA.”

Atalanta forward Luis Muriel also spoke ahead of the game.