Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United | Champions League round of 16 1st leg | Wanda Metropolitano | KO: 20:00 GMT | BT Sport
Following their 4-2 throwback victory against Leeds United at the weekend, Manchester United travel to Spain to face champions Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening.
Both sides have experienced indifferent seasons so far this campaign and are both chasing European qualification through their league positions, having been expected to challenge for the title when the season began.
The Champions League presents both teams with their only remaining opportunities at major silverware this season, so United and Atletico will both be desperate to gain the upper hand in the first leg in Madrid.
How do Manchester United look?Embed from Getty Images
Surprisingly, United escaped their fierce clash against Leeds with no new injuries, other than a few cuts and bruises.
Edinson Cavani, however, is once again unavailable.
He has often declared himself unfit to feature since signing for United and has done the same once again, this time he has a supposed groin injury, meaning he has not travelled to Madrid.Embed from Getty Images
Speaking on the Uruguayan, who is expected to leave Old Trafford in the summer, manager Ralf Rangnick said “Edi will not make the trip. He didn’t train and hasn’t been training for a couple of weeks. He has problems with his groin and, as long as he doesn’t feel ready to fully sprint, it doesn’t make sense to train him”.
The system, tactics, and formation that United will deploy on Wednesday is, as of now, unclear.
Under the former manager, The Reds played with a back five in the biggest and toughest matches such as this, but with Rangnick’s run being somewhat simple, we are yet to see the decisions he makes in these types of fixtures.
Cristiano Ronaldo will, of course, be expected to start in his return to the Spanish capital and will look to haunt Atletico Madrid and their manager Diego Simeone once again, as he has done so many times in his career.
Opposition: Atletico MadridEmbed from Getty Images
Spain’s top team last season, Atletico Madrid have struggled so far this campaign, performing far worse than they would have expected, and falling extremely shy of their high standards.
In the ten years since Simeone’s appointment, Alteti have been known for one thing – a strong defence.
They have had one of Europe’s best backlines in recent years, with goalkeeper Jan Oblak arguably being the best goalkeeper in the world for the past five or so seasons, recent times have shown that even the best of teams can come unstuck.
This campaign, they struggle to keep teams out, with Oblak having the worst save percentage of any goalkeeper in the Spanish league, conceding on average every two shots he faces, which is by far the worst of any ‘keeper in the division.
They are scoring more this season than usual, but their backline is ruining any hope they have of a title challenge in their domestic league.
The way they play could fit right into United’s hands, with a high scoring match potentially on the cards.Embed from Getty Images
Luis Suarez, who failed to win the Premier League title with Liverpool, is expected to be benched as he no longer has the legs to play a full 90 minutes.
Key StatsEmbed from Getty Images
The fixture with Atletico will be United’s first knockout game in the Champions League in three years.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Mr Champions League, has 34 goal involvements in 35 games against Simeone’s side, including 10 in 10 in this competition.
Atletico Madrid 1-3 Manchester United.