On Wednesday, Manchester United will face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, and our writers have chosen their favored teams.
On Wednesday night, Manchester United will face Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
United travel to Spain to face the La Liga champions in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16.
Ralf Rangnick’s side enter the game fresh off a 4-2 victory against Leeds at the weekend. United blew a two-goal lead in the encounter at Elland Road, but recovered admirably in the second half.
Rangnick earned praise following the game for bringing on Fred and Anthony Elanga, who both scored off the bench.
While Atletico Madrid won La Liga last season, they have battled for form this season, finishing fifth in the league.
The following is our opinion of how our MEN writers believe United should line up.
Diogo Dalot, and Raphael Varane should all return, regardless of how admirably Victor Lindelof performed at Leeds. Varane is a multiple Champions League-winning defender with extensive experience in Real Madrid derbies, so benching him again would be ridiculous.
Fred should be recalled, but not at Paul Pogba’s expense. When Pogba shifted to the left at Leeds, everything began to click for United, and he played some of his finest football last season off the left.
While Jadon Sancho prefers that side, he was also an influential right winger at Leeds. It’s worth trialing him and Pogba following the underwhelming performances of Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Elanga as starting with Sancho over the last month.
Lindelof will be unhappy at being relegated to the bench today, but Varane is built for these moments. Dalot should reclaim his starting right-back position – his proactive nature will be required – after Wan-Bissaka failed to convince against Leeds.
While striking the right balance in the midfield three is difficult, Atletico Madrid are likely to play deep on Wednesday, and United may be able to take the game to the Spaniards with Fred, Pogba, and Fernandes in the center of the pitch.
Elanga, 19, may be unprepared for such a scenario, and Rashford can take the initiative instead. Rashford showed signs of reviving his form prior to the winter break, and he must seize this opportunity if presented with it.
There should be no doubt about Dalot returning to right-back following Wan-dismal Bissaka’s return against Leeds, though Lindelof may feel much more hard done by following his excellent performance. Varane, though, must return to the fold due to his abundance of Champions League experience and his encounters with Atletico Madrid.
United reclaimed control against Leeds only after Fred was introduced, and the Brazilian should make his debut in Spain, where a bit more stability will likely be necessary.
That should not mean Pogba is dropped, as he performed admirably for a big period of the weekend and should instead be deployed farther forward – with Lingard out.
That would imply moving Sancho to the right flank and possibly leaving him there, which is not ideal given his form on the left, but it would be intriguing to see how they worked with Ronaldo in a front-three.