Edinson Cavani will miss Manchester United’s Champions League round-of-16 first leg against Atletico Madrid for the second time this season.
“No, Edi will not be able to make the trip,” confirmed interim United manager Ralf Rangnick. “He didn’t train, and he hasn’t trained in a couple of weeks, so he won’t be in the group.
” He has groin issues, and as long as he does not feel able to sprint fully, it makes no sense to train him and force him back into training. He’s gained enough experience to know when he’ll be fully available again.”
United were eliminated from the Champions League at the group stage last season and have only made the quarter-finals twice since losing to Barcelona in the 2011 final at Wembley.
Atletico Madrid are Spanish champions, but they are fifth in La Liga, having lost at home to Levante last week. With United four points clear in fourth place in the Premier League and little chance of winning the Champions League, some have suggested that they should prioritize their domestic form, but Rangnick dismissed the idea that the Champions League could be a distraction.
“No, the Champions League can never be a distraction,” Rangnick stressed. “That’s why the team qualified and was desperate to qualify for this season’s Champions League.” “How can it be a distraction if you want to qualify for the Champions League next season?”
“This is why we’re here and working for this club; we want to play in the Champions League, and we’re playing against one of Europe’s best teams tomorrow, and we want to show everyone that we can beat them.” It may not be the best chance, but if you win the Champions League, you can qualify for the Europa League.
“And in order to do that, we must play two excellent games against Atletico Madrid and, hopefully, advance to the next round at the end of those two games.”
“It’s about getting the right result, and in the last two games we rewarded ourselves with three points in both games, which will be important in the future for the Champions League games against Atletico Madrid and the upcoming Premier League games.” It’s not about playing well for 45 or 60 minutes, as we did in the games preceding those two, but about getting the result.”