UCL Group F: Manchester United V/S Atalanta

Overview

Manchester United faces Atalanta in a tricky Champions League fixture. Fresh from a 1-4 win over Empoli over the weekend, Atalanta is a must be riding high on confidence. On the current result, it would not be surprising to see them upset Manchester United at Old Trafford. Red Devils on the other hand suffered a humiliating 4-2 defeat to Leicester City. Both the teams have had their ups and downs early on in the season. Interestingly, both the teams currently are sixth in their respective leagues and also share the same number of points (14).

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In the Champions League, Atalanta is at the top of Group F. As the group is wide open, it’s going to be a challenge for every team to win every game so they can qualify for the next round of this prestigious competition. Even though Atalanta’s start in the European campaign has been decent, their league form has been inconsistent. For Manchester United, a strong start has been forgotten and their recent performances have been poor. They have shown the tendency of being inconsistent from one game to the other.

Team News

Atalanta has a number of absentees due to an injury crisis. Coach Gian Piero Gasperini will be without key players like defenders Hans Hateboer, Berat Djimsiti, and Robin Gosens, and midfielder Matteo Pessina. This might make them look a bit weaker side as compared to the hosts. Even though Atalanta might have a number of absentees, they do have apt replacements to play attractive football and get a result.

Manchester United has Raphael Varane who is out for few weeks due to a groin injury. Anthony Martial’s inclusion in starting XI is also doubtful. They did however receive a boost with the return of Marcus Rashford. He also netted a goal on his comeback over the weekend. They also might have Fred and Edinson Cavani coming back in the matchday squad. Aaron Wan Bissaka also returns to the UCL squad as his suspension has been uplifted. Apart from the above two absentees, Manchester United have a full-strength squad.

Predicted Line Ups

Manchester United

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: David de Gea
Defense: Aaron Wan Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
Midfield: Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba
Attack: Cristiano Ronaldo

Injuries: Raphael Varane

Managers : Gasperini (Atlanta) and Ole (Manchester United)
Managers: Gasperini (Atlanta) and Ole (Manchester United)

Atalanta 

Formation: 3-4-1-2

Goalkeeper: Juan Musso
Defenders: Matteo Lovato, Merih Demiral, Jose Luis Palomino
Midfielders: Davide Zappacosta, Remo Freuler, Teun Koopmeiners, Joakim Maehle, Mario Pasalic
Attack: Duvan Zapata, Ruslan Malinovksyi

Players to watch

Bruno Fernandes

The Portuguese midfielder has had a dip in form in past few games for the club. Even though the performances may have dipped, he still can be the most marked man in the final third. Bruno Fernandes has a nack of opening up the defenses to create chances, score a brace, or even provide crucial through balls. For Manchester United to stick together, it’s very important for Bruno Fernandes to be at his absolute best.

Bruno Pogba and CR7 (Manchester United) - Champions League
Bruno Pogba and CR7 (Manchester United) – Champions League

Paul Pogba

The French star certainly offers plenty of creativity on the left flank as well as in the middle. Pogba has performed well whenever he is deployed on the left flank (at the start of the season). Performances however have been below par whenever he has played at the heart of the midfield. Even though there have been ups and downs in the performances, Pogba is still an important piece of the puzzle for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese star has already scored some important goals for Manchester United. Even though there has been a draught in goals, Cristiano Ronaldo is still a threat in the box. If given proper services in the box, Ronaldo will definitely offer plenty of goals. Considering it’s his favorite competition, Cristiano Ronaldo will be thirsty to put the ball at the back of the net.

Duvan Zapata

The Colombian has netted four times this season in Serie A. Zapata’s clever movement and pace makes him a lethal player and can cause plenty of troubles to Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof in the heart of the defense. Duvan Zapata will look forward to receiving plenty of support and services from Demiral and Zappacosta.

Conclusion

The two teams will face each other for securing one of the top 2 spots this match week in the Champions League. Atalanta is at the top of their group and holds an edge to qualify for the next round. Considering their recent form and gameplay, it will not be a surprise if Atalanta manages to get a result at Old Trafford.

Manchester United on the other hand has had a run of poor games and performances. This has also increased pressure on Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and a loss against Leicester City has not helped him either. Even though the squad is better this season, the performances have been the opposite. But with Manchester United you never know, they have often delivered their best under pressure. All they need is a win and a good game to turn the tides.

Our Prediction

Manchester United 2 – Atalanta 1

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