Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is still recovering from a knee surgery that he had earlier this month. With their top defender sidelined due to injury, can Los Blancos hold off the Atalanta attack when the two sides face-off in the first leg of the round-of-16 in the UEFA Champions League?

Many believe that Real Madrid is in trouble. The Spanish giants may have a higher pedigree than their opponents, but Atalanta has proven that they have one of the most solid attacks in Europe today.

The Real Madrid squad is travelling to Bergamo, Italy without their captain and several other key players. Co-captains Marcelo and Karim Benzema won't be able to take to the pitch either, after suffering injuries of their own. Likewise, Fede Valverde is out, as well as the long-suffering Eden Hazard.

Atalanta has already recorded an impressive haul of 53 goals this season, with an attack led by Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata, who have 17 and 13 goals respectively.

Meanwhile, the Real Madrid squad that will be travelling to Italy has only scored 23 goals so far, less than half of the hosts' tally.

Real Madrid will need to find a way to stop Atalanta's thundering offence, while at the same time trying to score some very crucial away goals for themselves. While Los Blancos appear to be facing a monumental task ahead of them, the fact remains that this squad is often able to deliver when it really matters during the big games.

No matter how much of a slump Real Madrid is in, football fans know that they can't be written off especially in the UEFA Champions League. It remains to be seen if Atalanta will be able to keep their composure as they face the Spanish giants. For now, they have every reason to be confident.

Sergio Ramos
Real Madrid have lost eight of the last 10 European games in which Sergio Ramos has been missing. AFP / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU