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Sports

'Extraordinary' Muriel firing Atalanta before Real Madrid clash

  • This season he has scored 14 league goals, the same as AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and behind Cristiano Ronaldo (18) for Juventus and Inter's Romelu Lukaku (17).
23 Feb 2021

BERGAMO: Luis Muriel has moved beyond his 'super-sub' role with a rich vein of form to boost Atalanta's hopes against Real Madrid in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie in Bergamo on Wednesday.

Colombian ace Muriel scored and set up countryman Duvan Zapata for another as Atalanta warmed up for the Spanish champions with a 4-2 win over Napoli to move up to fifth in Serie A at the weekend.

"Muriel is extraordinary, not only for the assist and the goal," said coach Gian Piero Gasperini after the forward scored in a ninth consecutive Serie A appearances as a starter.

"This year he has shown extraordinary mental, physical and athletic form, he has made a terrific leap in quality also in terms of consistency."

The 29-year-old is having the best campaign of his career with 17 goals so far including two in the Champions League group stages.

He will be keen to impress after a disappointing 18 months at Sevilla, signed from Sampdoria in 2017 as the La Liga side's most expensive transfer.

He scored 13 goals in 65 games in Spain before returning to Italy on a six-month loan spell with Fiorentina, moving on to Atalanta in mid-2019.

In his debut season, Muriel earned a reputation as a super-sub, scoring 18 Serie A goals despite only starting 10 matches.

This season he has scored 14 league goals, the same as AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and behind Cristiano Ronaldo (18) for Juventus and Inter's Romelu Lukaku (17).

But while Lukaku and Ronaldo's goals include four penalties and Ibrahimovic's three, only one of Muriel's have been from the spot.

"The coach is giving me space and more playing time lately so I want to make the most of it," said Muriel, who has scored 36 goals in 71 games for Atalanta.