The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.
In one of the biggest ties of the round, current reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid take on Premier League giants Manchester United for a place in the quarter-finals.
Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.
Route to Last 16
Atletico Madrid made it through to the knockout stages by the skin of their teeth in a poor group stage by their own standards.
Diego Simeone’s side suffered defeat home and away to Liverpool and they were beaten at home by AC Milan, but a final day win over FC Porto saw them claim the runners-up spot in the group.
They scored seven goals in the six games, conceding eight but crazily there were seven red cards in their group stage games too to show the frustration they carried.
Manchester United overcame a tough start to their group win finish top with a game to spare, despite changing managers during the group stage.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored in all five of his appearances to help United claim wins over Villarreal home and away and Atalanta at Old Trafford but they failed to beat lowly Club Brugge at all.
United scored a total of 11 goals int heir six group games, conceding eight and only managing to keep one clean sheet.
Atletico Madrid are facing several injury issues with all of Daniel Wass, Matheus Cunha and Yannick Carrasco ruled out of the game, while Thomas Lemar, Koke and Mario Hermoso doubtful.
Simeone was seen in training with a lineup consisting of a back-five, with January signing Reinildo as a centre-back, while Joao Felix and Luis Suarez could start together. Angel Correa is pushing for a start though following his good form.
Ralf Rangnick’s options are much better, with Edinson Cavani expected to be fit following a groin injury that has seen him miss the last few games.
Marcus Rashford has recently found himself on the bench after some poor form, so Anthony Elanga could get a start while Jadon Sancho will look to continue his excellent form. Ronaldo will continue up front.
Breakdown and Prediction
Atletico still have a reputation of being a defensive side with little intention to play attacking football, but that isn’t the case anymore.
The team have kept just three clean sheets since the turn of the year and have lost eight of their last 15 games in all competitions.
Manchester United on the other hand have been struggling with their performances in recent weeks, but the results haven’t taken a massive hit so far under Rangnick.
Across 90 minutes, they’ve lost just once since he became manager in 14 games but they’re yet to win three games in a row in all competitions this season. They won their last two, with a 3-0 win over Brighton and 4-2 win over Leeds.
This game is likely to be tight with both sides relatively low on confidence in their performance, despite the difference in their results.
Home advantage is likely to play a big part in both games, but I do feel that Man United will be able to progress because they have more goals in their team.
Atletico Madrid 0-0 Manchester United
Manchester United 2-1 Atletico Madrid
(Manchester United qualify 2-1 on aggregate)
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