Atletico Madrid face Man Utd in the UEFA Champions League tonight at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano. The hosts are in poor form with eight defeats in their last 15 matches amid defensive woes. Man Utd look much more solid and consistent since Ralf Rangnick took over and will hope to go deep in this season’s competition.
Atletico Madrid Form
Atleti have had a bit of a disastrous season. They sit fifth in La Liga, some 15 points behind their city rivals Real Madrid. The side have lost eight of their last 15 matches across four competitions and four of their last seven. After consecutive losses, Diego Simeone’s side bounced back to beat Valencia 3-2 at home having trailed 2-0 with 63 minutes on the clock.
A 4-2 loss at Barcelona and a 4-3 home win against Getafe followed as their defence looked as shaky as any stage since Simeone took charge. They were then beaten 1-0 at home by Levante as pressure intensified on the coach. The side responded to win 3-0 at Osasuna; it was just their second clean sheet in 12 La Liga matches. Joao Felix, Luis Suarez and Angel Correa got the goals.
Atletico Madrid Team News
Atletico have a few concerns to deal with. Thomas Lemar has been isolating after COVID-19 contact whilst Benjamin Lecomte, Daniel Wass and Matheus Cunha have all been injured of late. Star attacker Antoine Griezmann hasn’t played in two months but returned as a sub over the weekend but was unused.
Winger Yannick Carrasco is suspended for this match. Angel Correa could replace him having netted from the bench at Osasuna. Renad Lodi is set for a recall at left-back after Reinildo started the last match. Koke is a doubt after the captain didn’t train on Monday.
Atletico Madrid Motivation
Atleti has lost some of their Simeone DNA this season and tends to score and concede loads of goals. The coach and his team will surely look to revert to type in this knockout match and play defensively. With no away goals, they can attack a bit more knowing that conceding won’t be fatal.
If the team fails to win this home leg, they may have too much of a mountain to climb at Old Trafford.
Man Utd Form
Ralf Rangnick has United in good shape. Under the German, they’ve lost once in 12 Premier League matches. The side are seven without losing in the league with four wins and three draws, all of them after leading at half-time.
The side hasn’t lost on the road since November. Their last three away league matches saw a 3-1 win at Brentford, a 1-1 draw at Burnley (having led 1-0) and a 4-2 victory at Leeds on Sunday. United led 2-0 at the break, were pegged back to 2-2 but scored twice in the final 20 minutes to win.
Man Utd Team News
United should get a boost to their options with Nemanja Matic and Eric Bailly set to return. Edinson Cavani has not made the trip to Spain. Raphael Varane will be hoping to be recalled in central defence and Diego Dalot is expected to replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
In midfield, Fred is pushing to start but that would see Paul Pogba benched or shifted into a wide role. More likely is that Fred is a substitute. Anthony Elanga is competing with Marcus Rashford to start wide with Jesse Lingard not taking a rare starting chance at Leeds.
Man Utd Motivation
United are very strong on the road and will fancy themselves to win. However, a draw is a good result before bringing Atleti to Old Trafford. There is no major need to attack with away goals no longer a factor.
If Rangnick picks Fred and Scott McTominay and benches Pogba, or adds Varane and goes to a back five, then his approach will be clear. Check the starting XI pre-match for a hint at how the Red Devils will play in Madrid.
Atletico have conceded 2+ goals in 8 their last 11 matches (La Liga)
Atleti have lost 8 of their last 15 matches (all comps)
Atletico are winless in 6 home CL matches (DDLDLL)
Man Utd have drawn 4 of their last 8 matches (all comps)
Man Utd are 7 PL matches unbeaten (W4, D3)
Man Utd have scored in 15 consecutive PL matches
Ronaldo has scored 25 goals in 35 career apps v Atletico Madrid
Considering the form of these two teams and Atleti’s terrible home form in Europe, Man Utd are favourites for this one. They should avoid defeat at least.
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