Manchester United vs Atletico Madrid Preview

United have home advantage against injury-hit Atletico

Manchester United host Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their UCL Round of 16 tie. After a late equaliser from Anthony Elanga, all Manchester United have to do is win against the Spanish champions to progress. Seems simple right? Unfortunately, United’s Champions League record is horrendous and have only reached the Quarter-Finals twice in the last ten years. What’s more is the last time United played a last 16 tie, it was against a Spanish club. They drew the away leg and lost 2-1 at home. But with away goals no longer a factor, United need nothing short of a win to qualify now and that’s as clear as it gets.

United are in good spirits following Ronaldo’s hattrick downing Spurs on Saturday and will be raring to go with Fernandes, Shaw and McTominay all in contention. Atletico could have eight players unavailable for the game and so will likely have to rely on the strength and willpower of their starting XI to get through the tie. Here’s all you need to know:

Manchester United vs Atletico Madrid Match Information:

Teams: Manchester United and Atletico Madrid
Date: Tuesday 15th March 2022
KO Time: 20:00 GMT
Stadium: Old Trafford
Managers: Ralf Rangnick and Diego Simeone
Referee: Slavko Vinčić

Team News:

Manchester United

Manchester United will be pleased to have the trio of Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes back in training today. I expect Shaw will be on the bench with Telles being defensively sound against Spurs bar the penalty and Shaw unlikely to be ready for a full 90. McTominay could come back into the midfield but Matic impressed in possession while Fred would have had MOTM against Spurs if Ronaldo had not got the hattrick. Bruno should slot back in no problem.

Atletico Madrid

Wass, Lemar, Vrsaljko and Cunha are all guaranteed to be out with long-term injuries. Yannick Carrasco remains suspended for this game. Koke returned to the team against Cadiz and should start tomorrow. Giminez, Kondogbia and Hermoso are all serious doubts but have travelled with the squad and will be assessed.

Interesting Facts:

  • Manchester United’s last five European knockout defeats have come against Spanish sides. (Villarreal, Sevilla (x2), Barcelona, Real Madrid)
  • United have not failed to score in their last 15 European games since a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford to (you guessed it) Spanish side, Real Sociedad.
  • Manchester United have only kept one clean sheet in their last ten European fixtures.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has 59 hattricks in his career and could have his 60th against Atletico Madrid.

Predicted XI:

I expect only a couple of changes. I think the backline stays the same as Shaw won’t be ready to start yet. Matic may keep his place if McTominay is not ready and he really is crucial in possession. Pogba could play on the left and Sancho on the right with Bruno behind Ronaldo to balance creativity and direct play.

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Telles; McTominay, Fred; Sancho, Fernandes, Pogba; Ronaldo

Predicted Score:

Atletico created a lot in the first leg but United should have offered more. You would expect the Old Trafford atmosphere to affect their performance and bring more intent into their play. I expect a win and a solid one to consolidate their victory against Spurs. I’d bank on a Ronaldo goal and a Sancho assist along the way. Whether United keep a clean sheet is a different matter. Nervy but dramatic would be my prediction.

United to win 3-1

Author: Arjun Handa

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