Five things we learned as Manchester United draw 2-2 with Atalanta

Manchester United have drawn 2-2 with Atalanta, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring two goals.

Here is a look at five things we learned from the game…

3-5-2 can’t fix defensive issues

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told his press conference before this game that he was not wedded to the 3-5-2 formation he used against Tottenham and could change back at any point.

And he probably will revert to a 4-2-3-1 eventually. But for now, United are utilising it as a useful safety net to try and stop the goals leaking.

There was no clean sheet this time, with United conceding after just 11 minutes.


The formation worked against a limited Tottenham side, but it is no magic formula to stop the team leaking soft goals, with Josip Ilicic left unmarked to net the opener.

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Varane injury a tough blow

The 3-5-2 formation lasted 36 minutes, with Raphael Varane going down injured.

The Frenchman went down unchallenged, appearing like he had pulled a muscle. He has only just returned from a groin injury.

United brought on Mason Greenwood and reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation in attack.

This was a sign of confidence in Eric Bailly, who had begun well at the back and prevented Duvan Zapata from scoring early.

It also showed Greenwood is not ‘in the doghouse’, having previously been left out at the weekend.

United could well be without Varane to face Manchester City, which would be a big blow, especially with Victor Lindelof also dealing with a knock which kept him out of this game.

Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images

Paul Pogba a liability

Paul Pogba was one of United’s worst performers on the night with a particularly poor first 45 minutes.

If he was not sailing passes out of play or giving the ball to an opponent, Pogba was letting his side down defensively.

He was genuinely lucky to come out for the second half. If this performance had come from a certain Dutch midfielder, the situation would have been different.

It was a sloppy performance from Pogba and it feels beneficial that he won’t be available this weekend due to suspension.

He had a last ditch tackle from teammate Eric Bailly to thank for not putting United 2-0 down after he was caught out dribbling wastefully on the edge of his own box.

Pogba went off in the 68th minute and it was well overdue.

Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Ronaldo and Fernandes produce magic

Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored in four Champions League games in a row for United.

This equalising strike was barely deserved, coming against the run of play just before half-time.

And yet it was pure class. Bruno Fernandes’ backheel to set up the goal was reminiscent of a famous Guti assist for Real Madrid.

The goal was outstanding and whenever United have players like Fernandes and Ronaldo in the team, there is always a chance.

Ronaldo’s last ditch goal was an incredible equaliser volleyed in from the edge of the box.

United still in control

It was predictable that Villarreal saw off an out of form Young Boys side.

That put higher stakes on the result of this match, with three teams now battling for two qualification spots.

A draw kept United ahead of Atalanta in the group, pivotal for the game with Villarreal.

Next up is Villarreal away, where United must avoid defeat. But a loss won’t mean instant elimination – which it would have done if the team had lost this one.

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