Atlético Madrid are seeking its second Champions League quarterfinal appearance in three years — but the Rojiblancos must go through Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United on Tuesday night to get there.
While United manager Ralf Rangnick expects to have his entire squad available at Old Trafford, it’s a different story for Diego Simeone. Matheus Cunha, Thomas Lemar, Šime Vrsaljko, and Daniel Wass were left out of the traveling squad for Manchester, alongside the suspended Yannick Carrasco. José Giménez (foot injury) and Geoffrey Kondogbia (hamstring) were included despite not training over the weekend.
“We have a plague of injuries, and those who we see are doing better will play,” Simeone said Monday.
One team. One family. One objective. pic.twitter.com/R5G4f2gs4T— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) March 14, 2022
UEFA’s decision to eliminate the away goals rule this season heightens the second leg’s already-palpable drama. After Anthony Elanga cancelled out João Félix’s opening goal in Madrid last month, United and Atlético will play out what amounts to a final in Manchester. And Ronaldo — who has two career Champions League hat tricks against Atleti — can decide games like this with one strike of the ball.
“With players like that, you have to be careful,” Marcos Llorente said on Monday about his former Real Madrid teammate. “(But United) have other great players at a very high level, and you have to be aware of all of them.
“It is impossible not to be motivated for matches like this. It is very important for us, we come in good form, getting results. The team is looking forward to the match against Manchester.”
Local reporting Monday indicated that Simeone will decide around game-time whether Giménez and Kondogbia are fit enough to play from the first whistle. João Félix and Antoine Griezmann are expected to repeat as the starting forward pair, while Héctor Herrera is expected to make his sixth consecutive start in midfield. Yannick Carrasco’s suspension clears the way for Renan Lodi to return to the 11 as well.
“This season has been one of the most complex since we arrived here,” Simeone said. “But we try to have alternatives and solutions, and we will find them as games progress.”
Date March 15, 2022
Location Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 4:00 p.m. EST, 1:00 p.m. PST
SB Nation opposition blog The Busby Babe