Manchester United players in a good mood (file photo)
Atletico Madrid, Manchester United battle for supremacy
By Valentine Amanze
Atletico Madrid is no doubt struggling to get their acts together after winning La Liga last season. Defending the title won against traditional winners – Real Madrid and FC Barcelona – may have proven too big for the club to handle going by the poor results in domestic competitions.
But facing an unpredictable English side, Manchester United, in a Champions League is a different ball game. Both teams had done well to qualify for this stage of the elite competition; but who will eventually carry the day is still dicey.
Manchester United within the season has gone through three different managers –
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Michael Carrick and Rangnick – with an added captainship distraction, while Atlatico Madrid had remaned stable with one manager, who is now under pressure to re-enect his winning formular.
But Manchester United look not be under pressure as fans are not expecting miracle from the club going by how it went down in domestic competions except EPL, where it suddenly climbed into top four.
For Atletico Madrid, a Champions League tie against Manchester United could be a chance for it to bounce back.
From the highs of winning their second league title in 25 years, have come the lows of humiliating defeats, unprecedented fragility in defence and introspection over style and application that has left even manager Diego Simeone’s future in doubt.
At the continental level, after losing away at Alaves, Atletico rallied against AC Milan at the San Siro, coming from a goal down to win 2-1, Luis Suarez scoring a penalty in the 96th minute.
After losing at home to Mallorca, they prevailed in an all or nothing match against Porto in Lisbon, a fiery 3-1 win dragging them into the Champions League last 16.
Recall that Atletico since last month had come from two goals down to beat Valencia and 3-2 behind to beat Getafe, on both occasions by finding a winner in the last minute.
Every time, momentum has been fleeting. After every comeback, they lost at least one of their next two games. Whenever Atletico have looked close to rediscovering themselves, they have just as quickly drifted again off course.
However, on the flipside, Manchester United of recent have rediscovered their goal-scoring boots, going by the club’s last two Premier League matches where they scored six goals and conceded two, coupled with the presence of the master of the championship, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo has been a proven match winner in the competition and will not disappoint even in domestic goals drought.
With no more away goal advantage, it’s likely Ronaldo’s magic will carry the day for Manchester United at Madrid on Wednesday.