Five things we learned from Atletico Madrid 1-1 Manchester United
Manchester United drew 1-1 against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last-16 first leg.
Here are five things we learned from the clash at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium…
Lindelof experiment backfires
When Victor Lindelof was named in the starting line-up alongside Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane, most Manchester United fans would have been expecting the Swede to form part of a back three.
However, interim boss Ralf Rangnick surprisingly deployed United’s number two at right-back instead of Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
For United’s right-backs it’s hard to look at that decision as nothing more than a lack of trust in their capabilities to perform in such a big game.
Especially for Dalot who has been control in the right-back position since the German took the reins.
But Lindelof was reluctant to go beyond the halfway line and didn’t look comfortable playing in the makeshift position.
Scott McTominay a huge miss
United’s midfield enforcer relished the atrocious conditions at Elland Road on Sunday and threw himself into several big tackles.
But the Scot was a glaring absentee from Rangnick’s starting line-up after the 63-year-old confirmed McTominay was ruled out due to illness.
United’s midfield three of Fred, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba couldn’t live with the intensity and frantic tempo Diego Simeone’s side set.
The reigning La Liga champions swarmed all over the Reds and there was a gaping hole in the heart of our midfield due to the void left by McTominay.
United looked soft centred without our influential number 39.
Frustrating return to Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo
Simeone’s side know about the big match pedigree Cristiano Ronaldo possesses more than most, so when the Champions League re-draw was made, the Argentine boss would have been forgiven for thinking ‘not him again’.
But the five-time Ballon d’Or winner cut a frustrated figure on his return to a hostile and electric Wanda Metropolitano.
The 37-year-old was on the periphery of proceedings in the Spanish capital and his frustration was evident when the hosts took the lead in the seventh minute.
United’s number seven grew increasingly irate with some of the challenges he was on the receiving end of.
But Los Rojiblancos will know that Ronaldo has been the scourge of them in the past and will be fearful that the great Portuguese will inspire United to victory in three weeks time at Old Trafford.
Still in the tie
United seemed caught off guard by the tempo and intensity Simeone’s side set in the early stages.
The Red Devils struggled to put together a string of passes with any real purpose, it was all very safe, side to side or in most cases backwards.
Rangnick’s side looked overwhelmed by the occasion despite possessing the likes of Varane, Pogba, Fernandes and Ronaldo in the starting line-up.
Despite producing a toothless performance for the majority, the most important thing is that the Reds are still alive in the tie.
Anthony Elanga delivers yet again
Five minutes after coming on for Marcus Rashford, Elanga was bearing down on goal after being played through by Fernandes.
The Swedish youngster took his strike early and punished an out of position Jan Oblak who was caught in no-man’s-land.
It was Elanga’s fist Champions League goal for the Reds and what a moment it was for the youngster to deliver when his side needed a moment of brilliance.
It’s his fourth goal for the Red Devils, all of which have come away from home.