Manchester United will look to win their third successive Champions League game when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer travels with his side to face an Atalanta team who nearly caused an upset at Old Trafford a fortnight ago.
The Red Devils bounced back in some style following their 5-0 humbling at the hands of Liverpool, battering Tottenham 3-0 in London, which ultimately cost Nuno Espirito Santo his job. Solskjaer will be hoping to carry that momentum into Europe against Atalanta, who they beat 3-2 last month.
How to live stream Atalanta vs Man Utd online:
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Where to watch Man Utd vs Atalanta on TV:
- UK: BT Sport 2
- US: Paramount+
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Atalanta vs Man Utd build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
As far as the Champions League is concerned, Atalanta have made a somewhat predictable start to Group F, drawing with Villarreal, losing to Man Utd and beating Young Boys. Those results have left them third in the table, but Gian Piero Gasperini will know his side have the capabilities of overcoming Man Utd, having led them for the majority of the match at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture last time out.
That five-goal thriller in the north west of England saw Man Utd battle back from a two-goal deficit at half time and culminated in Cristiano Ronaldo snatching the winner at the death, further embellishing his legacy at the club. Solskjaer knows his side can buckle if they’re caught napping, as Young Boys can attest to, but such is nature of football, momentum has shifted back in the club’s favour following their morale-boosting win over Spurs.
- Atalanta (vs Lazio): Musso; Lovato, Demiral, De Roon; Zappacosta, Freuler, Koopmeiners, Maehle; Ilicic, Pasalic, Zapata.
- Man Utd (vs Tottenham): De Gea; Lindelof, Varane, Maguire; Wan-Bissaka, Fred, Fernandes, McTominay, Shaw; Cavani, Ronaldo.
Atalanta’s casualty list remains extensive, with Robin Gosens, Hans Hateboer, Matteo Pessina and Berat Djimsiti all unavailable. Rafael Toloi could return here. Man Utd meanwhile welcome back Paul Pogba, who faced a domestic suspension at the weekend following his straight red against Liverpool.
Solskjaer’s formation change vs Spurs worked a treat
More than a few eyebrows were raised an hour before kick-off in north London, with Solskjaer deploying what looked like an overly cautious 3-5-2 on paper, omitting key attacking players and opting for a strike partnership of Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani, who have a combined age of 70.
However, the system overhaul worked a treat as United looked a lot more solid, cohesive and resilient, with Ronaldo and Cavani using all of their attacking experience to work well in tandem and each helping themselves to a goal, with the former teeing up the latter for the second of the game.
Following the match Gary Neville expressed his delight with the choice of formation, which denied Spurs from having a single shot on target, believing the 3-5-2 gives Man Utd a “good foundation”.
“We’ve said for weeks and months that this United team play in moments but you’ve got to have a good foundation of clean sheets and good defending,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“Those three up front will always create chances and score goals but they need that base to work from.
“If you look at that Man Utd unit, how close they are from front to back – Varane to Ronaldo; 25-30m maximum. It’s been like that most of the game.
“In previous weeks it’s been 40-50m. It’s been disjointed, disconnected but it’s a lot more difficult for Spurs to play through this Man Utd team.”
The question now arises as to whether Solskjaer sticks or twists for the journey to Bergamo. Having conceded twice to the free-scoring Italians on home soil, the Norwegian may yet be tempted to stick rather than shuffling the pack, keeping things tight against Gasperini’s great entertainers and sapping the energy out of a crowd more than accustomed to high-scoring affairs.
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