Champions League – Quarter Finals
The Champions League – Quarter finals kicks off in Lisbon this evening with the first tie of the round pairing surprise package Atalanta Bergamo and Paris Saint-Germain.
With no home advantage to consider and with no ‘away’ goals, this is a Champions League Knockout stage in extremely special circumstances. It will be played without the magic and passion of the fans in a neutral city and over one leg.
Atalanta are currently going through the most exciting times in years, if not their history. The club from Bergamo finished third in the Serie A this season and are in the Champions League quarter finals for the first time in their history.
The Italian outfit are arguably showcasing the most attractive football in Europe at this point in time. They have racked up the most goals in Serie A (98, third most in Europe’s top five leagues), had the most shots on target and third -most created chances. It is really no surprise that they are considered as genuine Champions League contenders.
French champions Paris Saint-Germain will be awaiting Atalanta on Wednesday night who are aiming for the quadruple after winning domestic leagues and cups.
Thomas Tuchel’s side were untroubled in the group stages, registering five wins and one draw with their best performance coming against Real Madrid at Parc Des Princes, in a 3-0 drubbing. However, they have played just 2 competitive matches in the last few weeks which may very well prove detrimental to their hopes of advancing when considering their list of absentees.
And though it’s fair to question their domestic league’s level of competition, this is still a strong team that hasn’t allowed a goal in its last seven matches.
Atalanta will again be without key forward Josip Ilicic due to personal reasons; while they are also missing goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini due to a knee ligament tear.
PSG have a host of injuries on their books, the biggest two of which are Kylian Mbappe and Marco Verratti. Angel Di Maria is also out through suspension.
The last time the French champions managed to reach the semi-final stage of the competition was back in 1994-1995 campaign, while Atalanta had never previously made it this far. Most notably, the Ligue 1 champions have now won a single game against Italian opposition in the competition in six attempts.
With the incredible amount of offensive talent on the pitch, expect this to be a thriller in the making. Both teams have a tendency to bombard their men forward and their defensive frailties could be the only thing that separates the two sides.
Atalanta have proved time and time again they mean business. Gasperini’s fearless side will take any opportunity they get to have a go at PSG.
Experience may just be the very thing which will leave them short in this enticing tie.