‘In the end they can be our 12th and 13th player on the pitch’: Ralf Rangnick calls on Manchester United’s fans to rattle Atletico Madrid at Old Trafford as the Red Devils look to seal a place in the Champions League quarter-finals
- Manchester United host Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday
- The scoreline is 1-1 on aggregate after Anthony Elanga’s late equaliser for United
- Manager Ralf Rangnick has called on United fans to create a hostile atmosphere
Whatever the future holds for Old Trafford, Manchester United need the place to be at its rambunctious best for the visit of Atletico Madrid.
Three weeks ago, United had to run the gauntlet at the Wanda Metropolitano before coming away with a creditable 1-1 draw.
Away goals don’t offer an advantage these days and no one at United is getting carried away over the possibility of reaching the last eight.
Ralf Rangnick called on Manchester United fans to rattle Atletico Madrid in their crunch clash
The tie is finally poised at 1-1 on aggregate thanks to a late equaliser from Anthony Elanga (R)
Three days after Cristiano Ronaldo lit up the Theatre of Dreams in the 3-2 win over Tottenham, interim manager Ralf Rangnick is urging fans to create another highly charged atmosphere.
Sir Alex Ferguson always felt Old Trafford was at its best on big European nights, and that is just one of the many factors that those responsible for upgrading the stadium would do well to consider.
Rangnick said: ‘Like in the game against Spurs, we need our players and supporters to be on top form.
‘Antonio Conte said it was a very difficult atmosphere for them to play in, and that’s probably one of the biggest compliments you can get if the opposition manager says that after the game.
Rangnick insists they need the fans to be on top form, just like in their 3-2 win over Tottenham
‘We had a team against Spurs that just wanted to win that game. It became obvious and the supporters played a vital role because they realised how much we wanted to win. Tomorrow will be similar.
‘Our supporters play a vital role and it’s always a very special atmosphere at Old Trafford, even more so in European games.
‘In the end they can be our 12th and 13th player on the pitch and make the difference, making it a very special experience for everyone.
‘In the end it’s up to us. We have to create those moments and then the rest will come from our fantastic supporters.’
United hope Bruno Fernandes will be fit to play following Covid, and Rangnick has no concerns over Ronaldo’s ability to go again so soon after his hat-trick heroics.
United will be hoping Bruno Fernandes is fit to play after missing out recently through Covid
‘I’m not worried that he has not been able to recover,’ said Rangnick. ‘So far, he’s always been a person who looks after himself and his body. He knows what to do.
‘If he can score another three, we will see. It’s not so easy to score three against this team at all.
‘But it’s not just about Cristiano, it’s about the whole team. We saw in the first half in Madrid what we shouldn’t do and how we should not play. We have to know what it takes tactically, and the rest is about energy.
‘The game against Tottenham showed the level we can play, and with another 10 or 20 per cent on top of that, I’m sure we can win.
‘We have a fantastic opportunity to be in the top eight teams of Europe, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to achieve.
‘We’re highly ambitious and we want to proceed. We want to show we can compete with the best teams in Europe, and therefore we’ll do everything we can to try to win the game.’
Atletico expect to have Antoine Griezmann in their line-up after the France forward started for the first time in a month against Cadiz on Friday when defender Jose Maria Gimenez picked up an injury that will keep him out tonight’s second leg.
Atletico expect to have Antoine Griezmann back in the line-up after he returned from injury
The Spanish champions are fourth in La Liga, well adrift of city rivals Real Madrid, and coach Diego Simeone knows that — like United — the Champions League represents the club’s last realistic chance of success this season.
Simeone will draw on the experience of previous trips to England, notably a 3-2 win over holders Liverpool at Anfield at the same stage of the competition two years ago.
‘We know every game is completely different, but we’ve done well in previous games like this in this country,’ said the Argentine before Atletico trained at Old Trafford last night.
‘(Juan Sebastian) Veron played here in a marvellous stadium like this. It’s got a great history and it will be another marvellous game.
‘United can hit on the break as well, it’s not just us. Perhaps they’ll have long periods of having the ball, but we’ll have a dynamic game at a fantastic ground.’
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