Zinédine Zidane and Pep Guardiola to their business: with their coaches multiple European champions, Real Madrid and Manchester City approach as favorites the last two knockout stages of the Champions League, scheduled for Wednesday (9:00 pm), respectively against Atalanta Bergamo and Mönchengladbach .

Real defy the “Dea” in Italy

Winners 13 times in the Champions League, the Madrilenians face Atalanta Bergamo for the first time in their history. Despite a chaotic run in the group stages, the Real stars finished at the top of their group, beating Mönchengladbach 2-0 on the final day, thanks to a brace from French international Karim Benzema.

Real will, however, have to deal with the absence of their star striker, injured and already forfeited against Valladolid on Sunday in La Liga.

Despite three consecutive European coronations during Zidane’s first term (2016, 2017 and 2018), the “White House” seems less formidable this season.

Outpaced by Atlético in La Liga, weighed down by absences, the Merengue team nevertheless relies on the magic of “ZZ” in this competition, which he won as a player (2002), as an assistant coach (2014) and as head coach ( 2016-2018).

Conversely, for its second participation only in the Champions League, Atalanta Bergamo advances without great certainties … but also without complexes.

The “Dea” (goddess, in Italian) of Gian Piero Gasperini had she not tamed another Spanish team, Valencia, at the same stadium last year, before falling only in additional time in the quarters against Paris SG (2-1)?

City facing the “Gladbach” surprise

An intractable leader of the Premier League, Manchester City have been undefeated since November and hope to achieve their excellent start to the Champions League season against Mönchengladbach on Wednesday (5 wins and a draw in six matches in the group stages).

It is because the Mancunian club has an unfinished history with the European event. Beaten in the quarter-finals last year by Olympique Lyonnais (1-3), Manchester City dreams of offering Guardiola a new C1 title, a decade after those conquered on the bench of FC Barcelona (2009, 2011).

Belgian Kevin De Bruyne could make his return during this meeting relocated to Budapest, due to restrictions linked to Covid-19. The 29-year-old Belgian midfielder was fielded by Guardiola on Sunday against Arsenal after a hamstring injury that kept him away from the pitch for several weeks.

But the Citizens will face the surprise team of the group stage: Mönchengladbach coach Marco Rose felt that his team had nothing to lose against the English.

If the Germans are struggling in the Bundesliga (one point gained from their last three games), Rose said her players “deserve this special night”. Before adding: “We have to trust each other and play with maximum courage and passion.”

With his French attackers Alassane Pléa and Marcus Thuram, a duo that shone throughout the group stage (7 goals between them), Mönchengladbach has enough to shake City.

Champions League round of 16 schedule:

Wednesday February 24 (return March 16)

(9:00 p.m. / 8:00 p.m. GMT) Atalanta Bergamo (ITA) – Real Madrid (ESP)

Mönchengladbach (GER) – Manchester City (ENG)