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



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:


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.


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.


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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Three talking points ahead of Manchester City vs Real Madrid



Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The big Champions League nights seldom disappoint, and the first-leg quarterfinal results last week in this year’s edition were no different.

The four games cumulatively saw 18 goals scored, none of which were overwhelmingly convincing, thus leaving the ground level ahead of the decisive second legs.

Of the four fixtures that unfolded last week, the clash between Real Madrid and Manchester City was the most entertaining, by far.

An enthralling 3-3 draw saw both Los Blancos and Pep Guardiola’s men pull off mini-comebacks on the night before they eventually split the spoils and left everything to be decided at the Etihad Stadium.

Tomorrow, the two European giants face off again in Manchester in a game that will grant the victor a spot in the semifinal of this season’s Champions League.

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

New year, new team

As Real Madrid head to the Etihad to take part in the decisive second leg, they invariably confront some horrific memories at the arena.

For starters, the men in white have never beaten Manchester City at the Etihad in an official game. Of the teams’ last three meetings at the venue over the past four years, City have always come out on top at home.

Los Blancos’ most recent recollection of the venue does not help in any way either. After all, they headed to England last season after a draw in the first leg at home, only to be destroyed by a 4-0 margin by Pep Guardiola’s men.

Fast forward one year, the Spanish giants once again failed to secure an advantage in the home fixture. To qualify for the semifinal, they must not only conquer the Etihad’s curse but also get past the ghosts of last year.

A lot has changed in Carlo Ancelotti’s setup since the two sides last met. Karim Benema’s departure, Jude Bellingham’s arrival, and the rise of new stars in goal and defence are just some of the innumerable variations that have grown into the Madrid-based entity.

Ancelotti’s primary goal tomorrow, thus, should be to keep the morale and belief of his men high. It is a new year, a new team, and history plays no part in how the game plays out.

The defensive situation

Rudiger and Nacho likely to start in defence. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

Ancelotti was faced with a defensive dilemma ahead of Real Madrid’s first leg last week. Of the available options, he opted to go with Aurelien Tchouameni to partner Antonio Rudiger, purely because of the Frenchman’s prowess in aerial duels.

While Tchouameni did do a good job, he is suspended for tomorrow’s clash leaving the Italian coach in a tricky situation in defence.

His Plan B, Eder Militao, is not fit enough to start, and everything indicates that Nacho will be the player to start alongside the German.

Tomorrow’s game at Etihad will be a personal battle for Rudiger, for he was dropped the last time Real Madrid played at the venue and watched his team’s destruction from the sidelines.

Now arriving as the leader of defence, he will make it his objective to prove that Ancelotti’s decision to drop him a year ago was costly. After all, he has efficiently defended against Erling Haaland in all his meetings with the Norwegian.

An equal share of the spotlight will shine on Nacho, whose aerial ability will be tested, and Ferland Mendy, who suffered against Bernardo Silva a week ago.

Clarity in approach

Real Madrid differ from other top European clubs in one primary respect. Unlike the goal of competitors to play a beautiful game, dominate the proceedings and assert authority, Los Blancos purely concern themselves with the result.

Be it ugly or an exquisitely crafted display, the win and qualification are all that Ancelotti aims for. The aforementioned approach has largely pioneered the team’s success over the years.

Heading into tomorrow’s clash, it is thus imperative that Real Madrid have the right idea of what to expect.

It will be close to impossible to dominate proceedings against a well-oiled Pep Guardiola team, nor will it be simple to boast of possession. As such, the Merengues will likely be forced to defend deep for large parts of the game.

What will be critical, however, are the few chances they get on the counter-attack. The likes of Vinicius Jr., Rodrygo Goes, Jude Bellingham and Federico Valverde will be crucial if the team is to hit on the break with efficiency, and their form will account for a large part of the result.

The goal tomorrow, thus, must not be to dominate the game but purely to walk out victors. It might not turn out to be beautiful, but will surely be memorable should it work out.

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