Preview: Atletico Madrid vs. Manchester United – prediction, team news, lineups
Manchester United will make the trip to Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday evening looking to claim an advantage in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid.
The Red Devils finished top of Group F to advance to the knockout round of the competition, while Atletico claimed second spot in Group B behind Liverpool to ensure that they would be present at this stage.Information Guide Nigeria
Atletico will enter Wednesday’s contest off the back of a 3-0 win over Osasuna in La Liga, with Joao Felix, Luis Suarez, and Angel Correa on the scoresheet, but there is no getting away from the fact that the Spanish champions have disappointed in the league this term.
Indeed, Diego Simeone’s side are currently down in fifth spot in the table, 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid, so the Champions League is their only realistic chance of silverware this term, and they might need to win the competition to secure a position in next season’s leading European cup competition.
Atletico were far from convincing in the group stage of the 2021-22 Champions League, winning just two of their six matches against Liverpool, Porto, and AC Milan, but a 3-1 victory over Porto on the final matchday moved them onto seven points and allowed them to finish second in the section behind Liverpool.
The Red and Whites have only faced Man United on one previous occasion, tackling them in the second round of the 1991-92 Cup Winners’ Cup, with the Spanish outfit winning 4-1 on aggregate, but they twice lost to English opposition – Liverpool – in the group stages of this season’s Champions League.
Atletico also lost to Chelsea in last season’s round of 16, but they have reached the quarter-finals or better in five of their last eight Champions League campaigns under Simeone, while the capital giants have been victorious in nine of their 12 two-legged knockout contests against English clubs.
Man United finished top of Group F to advance to this stage, collecting 11 points from their six matches, with Cristiano Ronaldo coming up with some incredibly important goals to help send his team into the knockout round of the competition for the first time since the 2018-19 campaign.
The Red Devils, who are two-time winners of the Champions League, beat Paris Saint-Germain at this stage of the 2018-19 competition, but they failed to make it through the group stage last term, ultimately dropping into the Europa League, reaching the final before losing to Villarreal.
The Premier League giants have won seven of their previous 11 round-of-16 ties, while they are in the knockout round for the 19th time – an English record – but the club have not managed to make the final of the competition since 2011, and it will be fascinating to see what Ralf Rangnick can deliver this season.
Atletico Madrid Champions League form:
Atletico Madrid form (all competitions):
Manchester United Champions League form:
Manchester United form (all competitions):
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The home side are also sweating on the availability of Thomas Lemar following a suspected positive COVID-19 test, but Antoine Griezmann is back fit, recovering from a muscular problem to make the squad against Osasuna, and the France international is expected to be on the bench here.
Simeone could decide to start Sime Vrsaljko at right-back with Marcos Llorente ahead of him, while Cunha’s absence in the final third could see Joao Felix start alongside Luis Suarez; Geoffrey Kondogbia could also come into the team alongside Koke in the middle of the park.
As for Man United, Mason Greenwood is out due to a club suspension, while Edinson Cavani remains unavailable due to a groin problem, but Eric Bailly could recover from an ankle issue to make the squad.
Interim head coach Rangnick has big decisions to make all over the field following the win over Leeds, with Elanga’s energy and work rate potentially earning the youngster a start in a wide area ahead of Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard.
Fred is also in contention, but Paul Pogba has impressed since his return from injury and could feature alongside Scott McTominay in midfield, with Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, and Ronaldo also starting.
Diogo Dalot and Raphael Varane both came out of the starting side against Leeds but are expected to return to the back four for this match, with Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka dropping to the bench.
Atletico Madrid possible starting lineup:
Oblak; Vrsaljko, Gimenez, Savic, Reinildo; Llorente, Koke, Kondogbia, Correa; Felix, Suarez
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba; Elanga, Fernandes, Sancho; RonaldoJAMB Result
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 1-1 Manchester United
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