Manchester United vs Atalanta Champion League Matchday 3 preview

Written By Uttiyo Sarkar on October 18, 2021

Manchester United are freefalling downwards. Things went from bad to worse in their disappointing loss to Leicester City. Unfortunately, the fixtures aren’t getting easy anytime soon.  The Red Devils next face an explosive Atalanta side with a reputation for slaying giants & causing upsets.

If they want to top their Champions League group, United have to win this. They need to regain their swagger to blow away the visitors & head into the huge Liverpool game with some momentum.

Manchester United vs Atalanta preview

Manchester United Likely XI

De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Bailly, Shaw, Fred, McTominay, Sancho, Bruno, Rashford, Ronaldo

Raphael Varane remains the only injured player.

Atalanta Likely XI

Musso, Pezzella, Demiral, Palomino, Zappacosta, De Roon, Koopmeiners, Maehle, Pasalic, Ilicic, Zapata

Atalanta have their own injuries, with first-team stars Robin Gosens, Hans Hateboer, Berat Djimsiti & Matteo Pessina all out with injuries.

Manchester United vs Atalanta match analysis

Man United have suddenly become dull, producing one after another underwhelming performance. A team of this quality really shouldn’t have lost 4 out of their 7 games. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side recovered strongly from their poor start last season – specifically after the 1-6 loss to Tottenham Hotspur. They’ll hope the 2-4 loss to Leicester acts like the same motivating device. United have games against Liverpool & Spurs after Atalanta.

That’s exactly why they need a big, dominant win on Wednesday. Solskjaer has to improve his set-up, ensuring his side plays quicker, more incisive soccer. But the players also have to step-up. Cristiano Ronaldo was poor against Leicester, but has nice history against Atalanta.

He’ll aim to get the better of former Juventus teammate Merih Demiral. Ronaldo has to be more active & take his chances clinically to get back to scoring ways. Bruno Fernandes has his creative flair back and must keep delivering key passes into the box to put the pressure on Atalanta.

Marcus Rashford returned to action in emphatic fashion with a goal against Leicester. He’ll look to continue his impressive run by tormenting the defenders with blistering pace & accuracy in the attack. Jadon Sancho‘s dribbling ability is unquestioned, the winger has to be more ruthless with his final product to break his goal duck.

Scott McTominay & Fred must work hard to control the midfield battle. But, they have to contribute better passes going forward to help their attackers. Atalanta might’ve had a shaky start to the season, but possess enough firepower to create a real storm at Old Trafford.

They scored 90 goals in Serie A last season – the most by any team. Gian Piero Gasperini’s side are a relentless, well-oiled attacking machine. Josep Ilicic can cause trouble with his dribbling & unpredictable finishing, while Duvan Zapata loves bullying defenders and scoring goals.

Mario Pasalic is well capable of breaking defensive lines with his slick passing. Their wing-backs Davide Zappacosta & Joakim Maehle are full of creativity and capable of creating chances through the wings.

United can’t defend the way they did against Leicester or risk another humiliation. Their entire backline must be sturdier & maintain a better shape. Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Aaron Wan-Bissaka & Luke Shaw all have to work hard & maintain utmost concentration to frustrate the visitors.

Knowing Atalanta’s blistering style, this should be a very open game. Solskjaer’s side probably can’t limit their opponents’ attacks. They just have to be more decisive with their finishing & outscore them to get a big win and take first position in the group.

Prediction

Expect this to be an action-packed contest. But with United’s current shaky form, I can’t see them winning – so going for a 2-2 draw.

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Uttiyo Sarkar

An unbiased Manchester United die-hard. Lover of the beautiful game. Addicted to the Premier League and beyond. Hopeful writer in the search for the greater good.

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