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Suarez ahead of Griezmann: How Atletico Madrid could line up against Manchester United

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Atletico Madrid are set to travel to Old Trafford on Tuesday, hoping for a narrow win over Manchester United that could grant them entry to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Los Colchoneros are currently on a majestic run in La Liga, having won all of their last four league encounters. The team seems to have finally picked up form after a change in formation, allowing the defenders a safety net.

But after drawing 1-1 with Manchester United in the first leg, Diego Simeone’s men would require a win on away turf if they are to progress through to the last eight of the Champions League. That task starts with the correct selection of players, which we assume will be:

Defence

Simeone has named Mario Hermoso as part of the trip to Old Trafford. But there as question marks over the involvement of the former Real Madrid starlet, with Atleti likely to persist with Reinildo Mandava on the left side of the back-three.

Speaking of January signings, though, Daniel Wass is not available for this encounter, meaning Simeone could be forced to persist with Marcos Llorente at right wing-back, whereas Renan Lodi should start on the opposite flank.

Elsewhere in the backline, Stefan Savic and Jose Gimenez remain guaranteed starters, as they look to form the three-man backline with Reinildo. Felipe is in the mix as well and could start if Gimenez is deemed not fit enough to start.

There is no looking past Jan Oblak in goal, even though the Slovenian has endured a rapid fall from grace this season.

Midfield

As far as the midfield is concerned, Thomas Lemar has not been included in the travelling contingent. Yannick Ferreira Carrasco is not involved either due to suspension, which is why Lodi is the likeliest option at left wing-back.

But on a positive note, Geoffrey Kondogbia is in contention to feature on Tuesday, even though Simeone is more than likely to start with Koke as the main holding midfielder.

The club captain should play a vital role in dictating possession and partnering the two additional midfielders in Hector Herrera and Rodrigo de Paul.

Attack

Simeone has no shortage of options in the attacking department, which could lead to a potential selection dilemma. Indeed, four players are gunning for two attacking slots as Atletico Madrid look to surprise Man United this midweek.

Joao Felix has been in an exceptional run of form and appears to be a guaranteed starter. Alongside him, Luis Suarez might get the nod owing to his Premier League experience, although Antoine Griezmann and Angel Correa are equally viable options.

The bench

Provided Suarez gets the nod alongside Felix, Griezmann should be an exciting option on the bench for Simeone. The same can be said for Correa, who can offer more versatility in the final third.

Kondogbia was arguably the best player on the pitch during the first leg and is an option in midfield. He could be a potential alternative to Herrera in the second line of press, should Atleti require more control of possession.

It would not be unlike Simeone to bring on one of Felipe or Hermoso if they are able to sustain a lead till the final quarter of the game.

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Features

Three talking points ahead of RCD Mallorca vs Real Madrid

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Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Real Madrid have seldom struggled against RCD Mallorca in recent years. The men in white have scored a whopping 15 goals in their last four games against the Palma-based side and their last loss versus them came back in 2019.

If this season’s numbers are anything to go by, however, it would be wrong to overlook Javier Aguirre’s side. Mallorca have won seven of their nineteen La Liga games so far and sit in tenth place with 25 points.

While they have not scored a lot this campaign, they have conceded the fourth-least goals in the Spanish top flight and have an excellent defensive record.

Real Madrid play Mallorca before Barcelona’s game on Sunday and have a chance to reduce the deficit at the top of the table to two points temporarily if they can win at Son Moix.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Mallorca vs Real Madrid.

1. Tchouameni time again?

Aurelien Tchouameni spent close to a month on the sidelines after hobbling off injured in Real Madrid’s clash against Villarreal last month.

In the defensive midfielder’s absence, Carlo Ancelotti was forced to patch the void with unconventional options including Dani Ceballos, Eduardo Camavinga and Toni Kroos as the pivot.

The Frenchman finally made his awaited comeback to the squad in the team’s game against Valencia midweek. As he was returning from a relatively long time on the sidelines, Ancelotti preferred to have him start on the bench.

Tchouameni eventually entered the field in the 66th minute of the game when Toni Kroos asked to be substituted out for precaution. In his 24 minutes on the field, the youngster was almost flawless with 97% passes completed and 100% accurate long balls.

As Los Blancos gear up to play their second game in three days, the time could be right to re-incorporate the 23-year-old into the starting lineup. After all, Tchouameni has been one of Real Madrid’s most consistent players this season and it is glaringly clear that they have missed him in recent weeks.

2. Two more casualties

No Benzema and Militao (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

The men in white produced 90 minutes of high-quality football against Los Che on Thursday and reduced the gap with Barcelona to a mere five points. However, the cost of the win was far more than what the manager would have liked to pay.

In return for the three points, Real Madrid saw Karim Benzema and Eder Militao leave the field with injuries to rub salt into Ancelotti’s fresh wounds.

The captain is expected to miss the next two games at least, leaving his team once again without a central striker. In Benzema’s absence, Ancelotti will have to put on his thinking hat and field a forward line that not only creates threats but also has the cutting edge to convert them.

Militao is also unavailable for Sunday’s game. With the Brazilian centre-back ruled out, Real Madrid will likely field a combination of Antonio Rudiger and Nacho Fernandez against Mallorca. After all, David Alaba is also returning fresh from injury and might not be fit to start the game.

3. Can Camavinga convince again?

It is almost criminal that a club of Real Madrid’s stature do not have a natural backup for the left-back position.

Ferland Mendy has been Ancelotti’s most preferred position in the player throughout the season. David Alaba was seen as a possible backup option, and though the Austrian International is capable of playing that role, he does not fancy the left-back position anymore.

When Mendy limped off injured in Real Madrid’s game against Atletico Madrid, Eduardo Camavinga thus emerged as a surprise option to fill his shoes. The youngster started the next two games at left-back and did a reasonable job, even earning praise from the manager.

With Tchouameni back running for the Merengues, the left-back role is the only available vacancy for the French International to claim a starting spot.

With Alaba returning, if Camavinga wishes for continuity as a starter, he must produce another exceptional display on Sunday and stake claim as the left-back until Mendy returns.

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