Everything you need to know about Atletico Madrid.
Stretty News caught up with Alan Feehely from Football Espana to get the lowdown on Manchester United’s opponents in the Champions League last 16, Atletico Madrid.
Which player should Manchester United worry about the most?
Alan: “João Félix. It’s almost funny to say that given how hot and cold the Portuguese has been since he joined Atlético Madrid back in the summer of 2019 but he has an ability to decide games that very few young men have at the sharp end of the European game.
“He scored Atlético’s opener after just three minutes on the road at El Sadar on Saturday afternoon when they eventually beat Osasuna 3-0. Luis Suárez then scored the second before Ángel Correa scored the third, but I’d bet that it will be the latter that partners Félix up front on Wednesday ahead of Suárez. Mobility and energy is going to be integral in this game and Suárez doesn’t have the legs he once had. Correa is enjoying a fine season.”
How are Atlético Madrid playing at the moment?
Alan: “They’re in crisis, just like Manchester United. Although, also like United, they have shown signs that they can bounce back in recent times. Atlético are currently fifth in La Liga, three points clear of Villarreal and level on points with fourth-placed Barcelona, who spanked them 4-2 at Camp Nou a couple of weeks back. Despite their status as defending champions they’re a whopping 15 points behind league leaders Real Madrid.
“They lost 1-0 to bottom-placed Levante in the last game they played at the Wanda Metropolitano and many have claimed that the time has come for Diego Simeone and Atlético to part ways after a decade of success unprecedented in the club’s history. As a collective unit, they’re neither the defensive stalwarts of early-era Simeone nor the more attacking incarnation that won last season’s league title. They’re falling between two stools a little bit stylistically and they’re going to find it tough against United.”
What will Atlético Madrid’s starting line-up look like?
There’s been rumours Simeone has been training with a back three system for this one in what would be a deviation to the 4-4-2 he’s been using often this season. Were that to be true, it’s possible the Argentine could start Jan Oblak in goal behind a back three of Stefan Savić, Felipe and Reinildo Mandava. Hector Herrera could start in midfield with Geoffrey Kondogbia and Marcos Llorente either side of him and Šime Vrsaljko and Renan Lodi operating as wing-backs. As aforementioned, Félix and Correa should lead the line.
What’s the final result of the tie going to be?
It’s a very difficult one to call. Neither side are in a good moment and both are as capable of putting in an impressive performance as they are of putting in an abysmal one. Atlético are missing Matheus Cunha and Daniel Wass through injury as well as Yannick Carrasco through suspension. Thomas Lemar, Mario Hermoso and captain Koke are all doubts. Such key absences, as well as the presence of Atlético’s nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo in the United starting lineup, means Los Rojiblancos will have to be on point from the jump.