Preview: United need to show the same spirit from Spurs victory against Atletico

Reaching the quarter finals of the Champions League would build something this season

Manchester United -v- Atletico Madrid

UEFA Champions League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Tuesday 15 March 2022, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: Slavko VinčićAssistants: Tomaž Klančnik, Andraž Kovačič

Fourth Official: Rade Obrenovič

VAR: Marco Fritz – Assistant VAR: Jure Praprotnik

Manchester United face their biggest match this season with Atletico Madrid heading to Old Trafford on Tuesday evening in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg. The two teams drew 1-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano almost three weeks ago.

It was Anthony Elanga’s late strike which cancelled out João Félix’s opening goal early in the match. With away goals ruled out this will be a crucial match for United’s season, being that a top four finish this season is unlikely with Arsenal having three matches in hand and being a pint ahead now.

United will need to qualify for the UEFA Champions League as the winners of the competition to play in it next season, unless Arsenal and Chelsea collapse in their final matches of the season, which would seem likely of Arsenal – but their current form is better than is has been.

Failing that, United will either play in the UEFA Europa League or the UEFA Europa Conference League, which would mean a much tougher 2022/23 season for them. United will need to win their remaining matches in the Premier League to enhance their chances of a top four finish.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: WLDDWW

Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 W, Manchester City 4-1 L, Watford 0-0 D, Atletico Madrid 1-1 D, Leeds United 4-2 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 W

Goals: 18 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 9 – Bruno Fernandes, 6 – Mason Greenwood, 5 – Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, 3 – Anthony Elanga, Fred, 2 – Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay, 1 – Own Goal, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek

Assists: 14 – Bruno Fernandes, 9 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Fred, Luke Shaw, 3 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, 2 – Mason Greenwood, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Marcus Rashford, Alex Telles, 1 – Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay, Raphael Varane

Atletico Madrid – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: WWWDWL

Cádiz CF 2-1 W, Real Betis 3-1 W, RC Celta de Vigo 2-0 W, Manchester United 1-1 D, CA Osasuna 3-0 W, Levante UD 1-0 L

Goals: 12 – Ángel Correa, 11 – Luis Suárez, 8 – João Félix, Antoine Griezmann, 6 – Matheus Cunha, 4 – Thomas Lemar, 3 – Yannick Carrasco, Own Goal, 2 – Rodrigo de Paul, Felipe, Mario Hermoso, Renan Lodi, 1 – Geoffrey Kondogbia, Renan Lodi, Sime Vrsaljko

Assists: 6 – Yannick Carrasco, Ángel Correa, Thomas Lemar, 5 – João Félix, 4 – Antoine Griezmann, Renan Lodi, 3 – Luis Suárez, 2 – Matheus Cunha, Rodrigo de Paul, Geoffrey Kondogbia, 1 – Felipe, Mario Hermoso, Marcos Llorente, Sime Vrsaljko

Previous meetings with Atletico and their connections with United.

United and Atletico have met three times in European competition. United have failed to beat their Spanish opposition in those matches, losing 3-0 in the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup second round first leg in Madrid, drawing 1-1 in the second leg at Old Trafford and three weeks ago.

United have scored just two goals, conceding five and keeping no clean sheets. Atletico have scored four goals, conceded one, keeping one clean sheet. That was back in 1991 and it is a surprise that the two teams had not met since then. This is an important match for United.

Quinton Fortune, Diego Forlan, Radamel Falcao and David De Gea are the only four players to have played for both United and Atletico. Just two of those players were transfers between the two clubs, the others had transferred to/from United and Atletico from elsewhere.

In the summer of 1999, Fortune signed for United from Atletico for £1.5 million. In the summer of 2011, De Gea signed for United for £18.9 million. Forlan played for United from 2002-04, signing for Atletico from 2007-11. Falcao played for Atletico from 2011-13 and United from 2014-15.

Team News: United in good shape ahead ob the biggest match of the season whilst Atletico will miss the participation of five players – United could have the advantage?

Manchester United: Luke Shaw (Coronavirus), Scott McTominay (Calf) and Bruno Fernandes (Coronavirus) were all doubts for this match but all three were back in training on Monday. Ralf Rangnick suggested Shaw might be the only doubt but he has a full squad to pick from.

Atletico Madrid: Sime Vrsaljko (Muscle), Thomas Lemar (Muscle), Matheus Cunha (Knee), Daniel Wass (Ligament), Yannick Carrasco (Suspension) are all missing from the 23-man squad which have travelled to Manchester from Madrid for the match at Old Trafford.

Predicted Starting XI: Ronaldo to lead the attack? Elanga and Sancho to support? Pogba, Fernandes and McTominay in midfield? Maguire and Varane to partner in defence?

Rangnick will need a strong team and for that reason, I don’t think there will be many changes from the team which started against Spurs. Harry Maguire is a player subject to lots of criticism, but despite his own goal against Spurs, he was not all that bad.

Some will judge more harshly than others, but these people tend to be in Twitter collecting like and retweets as their ego needs that kind of boost. United need this victory but if they make it to the next round, things will become a lot tougher for them – United need to understand that.

David De Gea will likely keep his place in the team against his former club, unless something happens in the next 24 hours or so. Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles should remain as the fullbacks with Raphaël Varane and Harry Maguire partnering in the centre of defence.

In the midfield, a trio of Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba should be strong, providing there is one number six and two number eights. In attack, Anthony Elanga and Jadon Sancho should flank Cristiano Ronaldo, who will want to build on his Spurs hat-trick.

Match Prediction: United need to be strong against Atletico, push for the win and see what this season brings – the momentum from a strong victory over Spurs should be used again.

United have not yet beaten Atletico in a competitive match and that will need to be something that happens if United are to make the quarter final draw of the UEFA Champions League this season. United might not be one of the best teams in the competition, but 90 minutes will matter.

Atletico played well in the leg in Madrid but after opening the scoring early in the match, their chances were not the best from there with United stealing a goal late in the game to make the match level heading into the second leg.

Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Liverpool have already qualified for the quarter finals draw, which will be held on Friday. Chelsea, Lille, Villarreal, Juventus, Benfica, Ajax and of course Atletico and United will find their fates on Tuesday and Wednesday evening.

United should take confidence from their 3-2 victory over Spurs to guide them to victory. With no seeding or country protection from the quarter final onwards, United could well be taking on English opposition or one of the elite teams.

Manchester United 2-1 Atletico Madrid

Written by John Walker

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About editor 2168 Articles
I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.