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Atletico will enter Wednesday’s contest off the back of a 3-0 win over Osasuna in La Liga, with Joao Felix, Luis Suarez and Angel Correa on the scoresheet, but there is no getting away from the fact that the Spanish champions have disappointed in the league this term.
Indeed, Diego Simeone‘s side are currently down in fifth spot in the table, 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid, so the Champions League is their only realistic chance of silverware this term, and they might need to win the competition to secure a position in next season’s leading European cup competition.
Atletico were far from convincing in the group stage of the 2021-22 Champions League, winning just two of their six matches against Liverpool, Porto and AC Milan, but a 3-1 victory over Porto on the final matchday moved them onto seven points and allowed them to finish second in the section behind Liverpool.
The Red and Whites have only faced Man United on one previous occasion, tackling them in the second round of the 1991-92 Cup Winners’ Cup, with the Spanish outfit winning 4-1 on aggregate, but they twice lost to English opposition – Liverpool – in the group stages of this season’s Champions League.
Atletico also lost to Chelsea in last season’s round of 16, but they have reached the quarter-finals or better in five of their last eight Champions League campaigns under Simeone, while the capital giants have been victorious in nine of their 12 two-legged knockout contests against English clubs.
Atletico will be without the services of both Yannick Carrasco and Felipe through suspension on Wednesday night, while Daniel Wass and Matheus Cunha are both out through knee injuries.
The home side are also sweating on the availability of Thomas Lemar following a suspected positive COVID-19 test, but Antoine Griezmann is back fit, recovering from a muscular problem to make the squad against Osasuna, and the France international is expected to be on the bench here.
Simeone could decide to start Sime Vrsaljko at right-back with Marcos Llorente ahead of him, while Cunha’s absence in the final third could see Joao Felix start alongside Luis Suarez; Geoffrey Kondogbia could also come into the midfield alongside Hector Herrera, with Koke set to miss the game through injury.
As for Man United, Mason Greenwood is out due to a club suspension, while Edinson Cavani remains unavailable due to a groin problem, but Eric Bailly could recover from an ankle issue to make the squad.
Interim head coach Rangnick has big decisions to make all over the field following the win over Leeds, with Elanga’s energy and work-rate potentially earning the youngster a start in a wide area ahead of Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard.
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Fred is also in contention, but Paul Pogba has impressed since his return from injury and could feature alongside Scott McTominay in midfield, with Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Ronaldo also starting.
Diogo Dalot and Raphael Varane both came out of the starting side against Leeds but are expected to return to the back four for this match, with Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka dropping to the bench.
Atletico Madrid possible starting lineup:
Oblak; Vrsaljko, Gimenez, Savic, Reinildo; Llorente, Herrera, Kondogbia, Correa; Felix, Suarez
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba; Elanga, Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo