Manchester United face Atalanta at Old Trafford in a crunch Group F clash in 2021-22 UEFA Champions League.
Victory could see Man Utd leapfrog Atalanta go top of Group F if Young Boys slip up elsewhere, whereas Atalanta will move four points clear of Utd with a win and retain top spot in the group.
Fred and Edinson Cavani could return for Man Utd after missing Saturday’s away Premier League defeat to Leicester following late returns from international duty for Brazil and Uruguay respectively.
Amad Diallo (thigh) is nearing a return but is unlikely to be risked in this match as Raphael Varane (groin) and Anthony Martial (fitness) remain absent.
Atalanta will be without Rafael Toloi after the defender suffered a muscle injury in Sunday’s 4-1 Serie A win at Empoli.
Berat Dijimsiti (hand), Robin Gosens (thigh), Hans Hateboer (foot) and Matteo Pessina (hamstring) are all ruled out.
- This is Manchester United’s first-ever meeting against Atalanta in all competitions.
- Man Utd have drawn just one of 12 home matches against Italian opposition this century in all competitions (W9, D1, L2).
- Atalanta have won two of their three away trips in all UEFA competitions against English opposition (W2, L1), which coincidentally have been against teams based in North-West England.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in each of Utd’s two Champions League matches so far this season.
- 11 of Atalanta’s 26 shots in their opening two Champions League matches this season have been on target.
With fresh questions swirling around Utd after Saturday’s unexpected loss at Leicester in which the team looked toothless with little intent or defensive quality, this is surely a must-win match if want to silence critics heading into Sunday’s crunch league clash against Liverpool.
Atalanta meanwhile look to have defensive issues of their own with just three clean sheets this season but do play a possession-based style full of fluid triangular and diamond shapes, which could cause Utd some issues if the hosts lack the penetration needed to hurt those shapes and trigger fast attacks.
Either way, both teams do have huge questions hanging over them coming into this match but Old Trafford has been a bogey venue for Italian teams this century, so if there is one team who realistically could win this then I am going for a scrappy home win.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Atalanta
Result: Manchester United 3-2 Atalanta