Atalanta – Valencia
Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta have no injury worries as they prepare for their first ever Champions League game in the knockout round on Wednesday, in their debut season in the competition.
“This is a game that we have been waiting months for,” said the Italian.
“The Champions League is a dream which we’ll try to carry forward as much as possible.”
Valencia will be without suspended defender Gabriel Paulista for the last-16 first-leg tie at Milan’s San Siro.
“The whole city of Bergamo is practically travelling to Milan.”
“In the last 10 years we’ve played in Serie B and fought to stay in Serie A,” said the 28-year-old Dutchman.
“And in the past three years we’ve gone from Europa League to Champions League. The people are going crazy in the town – if they see you they talk only about the Champions League and the game against Valencia. They say, ‘try to make us dream even further’. The excitement is big, but not only for the fans, also for us.”
This will be the first encounter between Atalanta and Valencia.
Valencia have won only one of their eight away games against Italian opposition in the Champions League (D2, L5), a 1-0 victory against Roma in the 2002-03 second group stages.
Atalanta are the first Champions League debutants to make it to the knockout stages since Leicester City in 2016-17.
Atalanta are the first team to qualify for the last 16 after losing their opening three group games.
Atalanta won two of their six games in this season’s group phase(against Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk), the lowest tally alongside Lyon among the 16 remaining teams.
Valencia are in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time since 2012-13. It’s been 13 years since they last made it past the last 16 (2006-07).
Valencia have never won an away game in the Champions League knockout stages (D4, L5).
78% of Valencia’s goals in the group stages came after the 60th minute (7/9), the highest proportion among the 16 remaining teams.
ATALANTA – VALENCIA 1 (1.80)