This highly-anticipated Champions League tie hangs in the balance as Manchester United host Atletico Madrid at Old Trafford. It will have to be a much-improved performance to the first leg if Ralf Rangnick’s side want to progress to the quarter-final.
Tie Hangs in the Balance as Manchester United Host Atletico Madrid
Bruno Fernandes to Return?
Bruno Fernandes returned to training at Carrington yesterday morning according to approved sources. Whether Rangnick will bring him back into the midfield is yet to be seen. Paul Pogba, Fred and Nemanja Matic did a decent job on the weekend at Spurs, especially in the first half. With Pogba playing in the number 10 role he gave his side good control and did not concede possession in the final third. One criticism of Fernandes’ game is he gives possession away too often. However, he does boast the most assists in the Champions League and it was him who slipped the ball into the path of Anthony Elanga who equalised for United in the first leg. If Fernandes is selected, it would not come as a big surprise as he has featured heavily since Rangnick’s appointment but it will be interesting to see if Pogba is selected alongside him. If that is the case, it is clear Rangnick will set his side up to play on the front foot and show aggression. However, they both started in the first leg and put in lackluster performances. Scott Mctominay is a doubt for the game and there is also an extremely strong argument for him to start if he is declared to be fit. His hard work and energy was definitely something United missed at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Experience of Simeone May Prove to be Vital
The immense experience Diego Simeone possesses may prove to be vital in this match. While his side are not in the best of form and have failed to reach the heights of last season, one cannot write them and him off. Also his experience in these vital knockout games could play a huge role. His passion can be seen on the touchline and his side play on emotion. Rangnick on the other hand does not possess such experience and it will be interesting to see how he approaches the game. He must ensure his side do not play into the hands of Athletico by being emotional and getting frustrated through any antics Simeone and his men may bring on the night. Under Rangnick, while it has not been perfect we have seen United play a better brand of football and they have also improved to some extent defensively. With the right set-up and application from the players, United can cause Atletico many problems and go through to the quarters. On the other hand, Athletico can make this a long night for United and frustrate them, especially if they score an early goal. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane will have to step up and show their vast experience in knockout games like this and United fans will hope they see another show from Cristiano Ronaldo under the lights at Old Trafford.
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