Down The Wings

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Champions League Preview: Manchester United vs Atalanta

Manchester United vs Atalanta | Champions League Group Stage | Old Trafford | KO 20:00 GMT | BT Sport

A week ago, it would have been fair to say that Manchester United were out of form, but following their shambolic 4-2 defeat at the hands of Leicester City at the weekend, it is fair to say that things have reached crisis point.

United have won just two of their last seven matches in all competitions, and were, in all reality, fortunate to beat both Villarreal and West Ham United.

They now play host to Atalanta on Wednesday night, a match that United MUST win, otherwise qualification from the group looks unlikely.

The match marks the second in a run of tricky games that include Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea, and Arsenal.

How do Manchester United Look?

United lost their record breaking unbeaten away run, at the hands of Leicester City, at the weekend, and a key part of that was The Reds losing the midfield battle.

For months, fans have been crying out for an alternative partnership to Scott McTominay and Fred, yet the duo of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic played so poorly that people are now demanding ‘McFred’ return.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has played seven different midfield partnerships this campaign, showing that he has no idea what his best side is.

To find form, to win football matches, and to win titles, you need a stable eleven, and specifically need a settled pairing in front of the defence who can break down opposition attacks and start United’s.

The constant changing means that this stability is not possible, that players are not gelling together, and United struggle.

McTominay and Fred will most likely return against Atalanta, and whilst they are clearly not ideal, they offer a stable, settled pairing.

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In terms of availability, Aaron Wan-Bissaka is back following suspension, as UEFA reduced his ban from three games back down to one.

Raphael Varane is still injured, so will play no part of the match, however Harry Maguire is back, after making a shock return to the eleven against The Foxes on Saturday.

The Englishman played arguably his worst performance in a United shirt against his old side and was potentially at fault for three of the goals, if not all four, but will still be likely to play on Wednesday.

Marcus Rashford also returned at the weekend, coming off the bench and scoring against Leicester, and will be expected to start against Atalanta.

Opposition: Atalanta

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Atalanta sit sixth in the Serie A table, having won four of their six matches so far this season.

In the Champions League this campaign, they have drawn 2-2 against Villarreal and beaten BSC Young Boys 1-0.

They attack with lots of pace, something that United will undoubtedly struggle with, making this match very tough for the reds.

Key players Robin Gosens and Hans Hateboer will be out for the clash. 

Key Stats

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Manchester United have kept just one clean sheet in their last nineteen matches, and are playing against a fast, counter attacking side, meaning conceding goals on Wednesday is a probability.

Prediction

Manchester United 3-3 Atalanta

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