The most surprising aspect of the Manchester United side Ralf Rangnick chose to take on Atletico Madrid last night was the selection of Victor Lindelof at right-back.
The Swede played a tucked-in role and battled well in his unfamiliar role, but Atletico kept creating overloads on the outside of him.
Rangnick was asked after the game why he made that surprise call, with Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the bench.
As per United’s official website, he wanted the option to switch to a three-man central defence, and also praised the way Wan-Bissaka and fellow substitute full-back Alex Telles improved United after their introduction.
“Well, I thought we could do with (Lindelof) for aerial duels, set pieces, free kicks, for us and against us and I think all three central defenders were in good shape,” he said.
“I also thought we could do with three central defenders in that game, defensively but after seven minutes being 1-0 down, the plan [changed].
“Of course, I knew it was not his best possible position and I think we could see that in the last half-hour when we had Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] on the pitch and Alex [Telles], we had more possession of the ball. We had more offensive actions, we had more assists from the wings, and more options from the wings.
“That was the idea behind it, also to possibly switch to a back five if necessary but as I said, in the end, due to that goal we conceded, it was difficult.”
Diogo Dalot must be disappointed that he was left out of the game here, having looked like he had nailed down the right-back spot.
The Portuguese international was also left out of the weekend clash with Leeds, with Wan-Bissaka preferred at right-back.
That perhaps suggests that Rangnick does not trust Dalot defensively in the very biggest games but he must be pleased with the impact of his substitutes again.
On Sunday, he brought on Fred and Anthony Elanga and they both scored, and of course the Swede repeated the trick to earn a 1-1 draw on a night where his more experienced countryman Lindelof endured a difficult night but did his utmost to do the job for the team and made a crucial early block to prevent United falling behind even earlier than they did.