Atalanta can reach Champions League final, feels Zico

Zico sees Atletico Madrid and Manchester City as leading Champions League contenders - but also fancies Atalanta to go far.

Atalanta has been a surprise package this season, recovering after losing its opening three group games to reach the knockout stages in its debut campaign in the Champions League.

Atalanta has been a surprise package this season, recovering after losing its opening three group games to reach the knockout stages in its debut campaign in the Champions League.   -  UEFA/Getty Images

Atalanta can continue its impressive run in the Champions League and go all the way to the final, according to Zico.

The Serie A side has been a surprise package this season, recovering after losing its opening three group games to reach the knockout stages in its debut campaign in Europe's leading club competition.

It then saw off Valencia 8-4 on aggregate - winning both the home and away legs in the last-16 tie - to continue its progression before the Champions League was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

READ | Champions League, Europa League suspended "until further notice"

Atalanta's performances have certainly impressed Zico, with the Brazil legend putting Atalanta alongside Atletico Madrid - which knocked out last year's winner Liverpool to reach the last eight - and Manchester City as potential candidates for glory.

"A month ago, I'd have said Liverpool were the favourites to win the Champions League, but they dropped in form too quickly and were eliminated," Zico said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Now Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid are among the candidates. When you beat the reigning champions, it means you can go all the way with extra belief. I believe Manchester City and Pep Guardiola are the best.

"Among the Italians, I'd say Atalanta. They play fantastic football, have a very strong collective and I can see them reaching the final.

"Beating Atalanta is very difficult, Manchester City realised that."

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Atalanta is on course to qualify for the Champions League again through its league exploits, too. It sits fourth in the Serie A table, three points clear of nearest rival Roma with a game in hand.

However, it is unclear when action will resume. Italy has been one of the countries to suffer the most during the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 15,000 recorded deaths from the virus.

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