Champions League: Manchester United travel to Atletico Madrid in Round of 16 first leg and seek to replicate rivals | Soccer News
The Champions League Round of 16 continues as holders Chelsea host Lille and Manchester United travel to Atletico Madrid.
United are hoping to follow the other three Premier League sides to secure the first-leg lead in the last 16, after Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City beat Sporting Lisbon 5-0 and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool beat Inter Milan 2 -0 last week.
Chelsea made it three from three with their 2-0 win over Lille on Tuesday – meaning Premier League sides have yet to concede a goal in the Round of 16 let alone suffer defeat.
Simeone feels the heat at Atletico
If Ralf Rangnick is to win a trophy during his caretaker tenure as Manchester United manager, it can only be by delivering the club’s fourth European Cup. The German side have already exited the FA Cup, but they have overseen a Premier League recovery since the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, taking 25 points from 12 games to move United from sixth to fourth.
A sign of Rangnick’s 63-year-old top coach’s inexperience is that the game at Atletico is the first time he’s led a side in the Champions League knockout stage since that his Schalke side were beaten in the semi-finals in 2011 by Alex. Ferguson United.
Rangnick was bombarded with reports of United’s training challenges and it was significant that he referenced the unity displayed in Sunday’s 4-2 win at Leeds in the Premier League. He said the result was the best response they could give to some of the reports from last week indicating there had been disruption in the dressing room.
Atlético de Madrid Fact Sheet
After leading Atletico to La Liga glory for the second time last season, Diego Simeone has endured a frustrating campaign thus far.
Simeone’s men currently sit fifth in Spain, 15 points behind top rivals Real Madrid – they have lost seven league games so far this season, three more than in the aggregate of last campaign – and had their domestic cup hopes dashed by exits from the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup in a week last month.
They emerged from Group B as runners-up behind Liverpool despite losing 3-2 at home to the Reds and 2-0 at Anfield, and exited the competition at this stage last season to eventual winners Chelsea after a 1-0 defeat at the Metropolitano and a 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge.
However, they beat United over two legs the last time the clubs met, in the second round of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991-92. Evergreen striker Luis Suarez is hoping to rekindle the rivalry with the men at Old Trafford but Antoine Griezmann is yet to get it since returning from a hamstring injury.
Atletico are led by the longest-serving coach in the Champions League this season. But after marking a decade in charge in December, Atletico are going through one of their most turbulent times under Diego Simeone. The squad is inconsistent – much like United – and Simeone is feeling the heat.
There was an encouraging 3-0 win at Osasuna at the weekend, but Atletico had lost four of their previous six games in all competitions before Saturday, including eliminations from the Spanish Super Cup and the Copa del Rey.
Like United in England, Atletico are currently targeting the fourth and final Champions League spot in Spain. Simeone is set to face United without Daniel Wass and Matheus Cunha due to injuries, while Thomas Lemar remains in isolation with coronavirus. While Atletico are the reigning Spanish champions, United haven’t won a trophy since the 2017 Europa League under Jose Mourinho.
- Atletico Madrid and Manchester United have featured in the same European campaign only once – the 1991-92 Cup Winners’ Cup – when the Spanish side eliminated their English counterparts 4-1 on aggregate in the Round of 16. final.
- United’s only previous visit to Atlético Madrid was in the 1991-92 Cup Winners’ Cup first leg at the Vicente Calderón, when a starting XI included Peter Schmeichel, Denis Irwin, Steve Bruce, Paul Ince, Bryan Robson and Mark Hughes. (among others) were beaten 3-0 by Luis Aragonés’ men.
- Atletico have lost each of their last four Champions League games against English sides, double the number of defeats suffered in their first 12 matches in the competition.
Elsewhere on Wednesday…
Benfica v Ajax: The Amsterdam club shone in the group stage, winning all six games as Sebastien Haller became the first man to score 10 goals in his first six games in the competition.
The Dutch leaders are also dominant domestically, winning the last seven matches to establish a five-point lead at the top of the Eredivisie.
Benfica reached the last 16 by helping knock out Barcelona with a win and a draw against the five-time European champions. But Benfica’s confidence isn’t so high now after winning just twice in five games in all competitions.
The latest setback was a 2-2 draw against relegation-threatened Boavista in the Portuguese league after leading 2-0 until the 74th minute.
The result was another blow for the Portuguese powerhouse who are only third in the league table, behind rivals Sporting Lisbon and leaders Porto. It’s a crisis overseen by Nelson Verissimo, the B team coach who took over after Jorge Jesus was fired at the end of last year despite results against Barcelona.
What else has happened so far?
In other fixtures in the round, Kylian Mbappe – who has long been linked with a move to Real Madrid – scored a 94th-minute winner against Carlo Ancelotti’s side as Paris Saint-Germain took a slight lead at the return match.
Red Bull Salzburg, the first Austrian side in Champions League history to reach the knockout stages, drew 1-1 with Bayern Munich, while Villarreal and Juventus drew 1-1 in Spain.
Do City need to win this year?
“100% they do. It’s good to win the Premier League because they have 80 million players in every position and although Pep hasn’t won the Champions League for 10 years, City never have. .
“The longer it goes on the harder it gets if I’m being honest. Teams get stronger. They don’t get weaker. When Man City buy players they don’t even make a huge difference.
“They’ve signed Jack Grealish but he hasn’t done anything yet and they’re still going to win the league. I think Jack will be fine, but the longer City go without winning the Champions League the more difficult it will be.
“City have to win. Sometimes their problem is that the Premier League is too easy for them. It’s good to prepare Norwich every week, and it’s their daily bread. But that’s a major problem.
“We see it over the years with Manchester United at the time. The league was too easy for them and then they played gung-ho football against Real Madrid and were punished.
“Sometimes City have to be a bit more aware of their tactics. Teams like Bayern Munich have players who can really hurt you.”
The state of play
As the 2021/22 Champions League returns for the Round of 16, we bring you the state of play, upcoming fixtures and schedule for the rest of the tournament.
The group stage of the competition ended in early December, with Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona the heavy hitters who exited before the round of 16, thus falling out of the Europa League.
For Dortmund, it was just the second time in a decade that they had failed to progress from the group stage, with five-time winners Barca a mainstay of the latter stages in 19 of the last 20 campaigns.
From a British perspective, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City sealed their place in the last 16 with one game to spare, meaning their 2-1 loss to RB Leipzig in their final group game didn’t matter. although Champions League holders Chelsea had to settle for second place. in Group H after drawing 3-3 with Zenit in their last group game.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side – who had already clinched top spot in Group B with two games to go – became the first English side to win all six Champions League group stage games, beating England. AC Milan 2-1 in their last match to give an encore. of their own threat in this competition.
Meanwhile, Manchester United have propelled last season’s Europa League winners Villarreal to top spot in Group F, despite drawing two of their last three games, and will now face Atletico Madrid.
Round of 16
tuesday 15 february
Wednesday February 16
tuesday february 22
Wednesday February 23
tuesday march 8
Wednesday March 9
tuesday march 15
Wednesday March 16
Draw scheduled for Friday, March 18.
The first legs will be played on Tuesday April 5 and Wednesday April 6; Return matches on Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 April.
Draw scheduled for Friday, March 18.
The first legs are scheduled to be played on Tuesday April 26 and Wednesday April 27; Return matches on Tuesday May 3 and Wednesday May 4.
Scheduled to be played on Saturday May 28 at Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg.
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