Manchester United turn their attention to the Champions League this week when they travel to Atletico Madrid for the first leg of their round-of-16 tie on Wednesday (8pm kick-off, UK time).
The Red Devils capped off the weekend with a memorable and exhilarating 4-2 win over rivals Leeds, but the post-derby revelry will be short lived as a daunting trip to Madrid awaits in just a few days’ time. Diego Simeone’s La Liga champions are about as awkward an opponent as they come, making this a fascinating showdown at the Metropolitano.
Atletico Madrid vs Man Utd betting tips from Squawka Bet
Atletico Madrid team news vs Man Utd: Simeone rocked by injury and suspension crisis
Matheus Cunha sustained a knee injury which kept him out of the Osasuna win at the weekend, and he continues to recuperate on the sidelines, alongside January recruit Daniel Wass, who is struggling with similar issues. Yannick Carrasco and Felipe meanwhile are both out through suspension, meaning Simeone is set to deploy a Jose Gimenez-Stefan Savic centre-back partnership, while recently-recovered Antoine Griezmann is likely to come in for the former. There are also concerns over Thomas Lemar and back-up goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte.
Predicted Atletico Madrid XI vs Man Utd:
- Oblak; Vrsaljko, Gimenez, Savic, Lodi; Llorente, Koke, Kondogbia, Correa; Griezmann, Suarez. (4-4-2)
Man Utd team news vs Atletico Madrid: Fred makes a case for starting berth
Edinson Cavani is likely to remain unavailable with a groin strain, but Eric Bailly could make the journey after overcoming an ankle problem. Nemanja Matic and Raphael Varane recently overcame injury concerns to make the bench against Leeds at the weekend, with the latter given a five-minute cameo, and the Frenchman could well make the starting XI, with Victor Lindelof dropping down to the bench.
The question for Ralf Rangnick then, is who to deploy in central midfield? The German started with a double pivot of Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba at Elland Road, but Fred came off the bench to transform the game and bag a decisive goal that swung the match in Man Utd’s favour. Bruno Fernandes, on the scoresheet for the second, believes Fred is a player who doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves.
Following the win in West Yorkshire, Fernandes said: “Fred is a player that works very hard and doesn’t get a lot of praise.
“Him and Scott [McTominay] are two players who are really important for us in many games.
“I’m really happy for him and also for Anthony [Elanga], who got his goal. He’s a kid that deserves that.”
Predicted Man Utd XI vs Atletico Madrid:
- De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Pogba, Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo. (4-2-3-1)
Atletico Madrid vs Man Utd Champions League odds from Sky Bet
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