Predicted Manchester United line-up v Atletico Madrid

Tonight is the night we have been waiting for, Manchester United’s first Champions League knockout tie in three years.

United take on Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano, hoping to get a good first leg result to take back to Old Trafford.

This is a night in which United’s big players will be expected to step up, and manager Ralf Rangnick has to find a way to them in.

Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Key decisions in midfield and defence

United’s XI does not quite pick itself for this game. There are a few intriguing selection decisions for manager Ralf Rangnick, which we will attempt to unpack.

The obvious and easiest issue is in goal, with David de Gea set to face his former club. Then it gets a little trickier.

United have a fully fit set of centre-backs, but really it is two from three out of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, and Raphael Varane.

Varane’s Champions League experience makes him a must-pick for this game, he knows Atletico very well too. His most likely partner is captain Harry Maguire, with Lindelof the odd man out.

We would expect Diogo Dalot to replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka at right-back for this fixture, and in a more controversial and divisive call, Alex Telles instead of Luke Shaw, who is fresher, and has proved a reliable defender under Rangnick.

United’s midfield is also tricky to decipher, as United have four midfielders competing for three spots, with Fred, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes.

In recent games Rangnick has been able to rotate, but he has to make a decision here. He will want the work rate of ‘McFred’, without sacrificing the individual game-changing qualities ‘Brogba’ jointly possess.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

That is why we are predicting that for the very first time, Rangnick picks all four, playing Pogba wide right in a role similar to the one Jesse Lingard featured in against Leeds. Pogba is used to this, having featured in this position last season.

This leaves just two attacking positions, filled by Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are automatic picks as starters.

Anthony Elanga, Marcus Rashford, and Jesse Lingard will be attacking options on the bench, with Edinson Cavani remaining in Manchester due to injury.

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