Manchester United face Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday, almost two weeks after they needed a stunning comeback to defeat the Italian side at Old Trafford.
Manchester United will be on the road this time. Gewiss Stadium in the smallish town of Bergamo, in Northern Italy will host the two sides.
Atalanta have not lost since the defeat at Old Trafford. They were 3-1 winners against Sampdoria and drew their last two matches against Udinese 1-1 and a solid Lazio side 2-2 on Saturday.
A 94′ leveler from Marten de Roon stole the point for Atalanta, they needed to comeback twice for the point against a good Lazio team.
United come into the game with a good victory against Spurs. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer changed his tactics up and United easily took care of Spurs. The win took some pressure off of Solskjaer, but any loss could spark the debate up again.
“As I say, we can play different systems, back three, back four, back five. We’ve got wide men, wingers, we can play 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3… We looked at the Tottenham game and to get more control in that game, we’ll play that system and it worked. What we’ll do tomorrow night, I can’t say, of course. The execution within the roles is more important than the system. The quality of the pass to Cristiano, the first goal. If that’s 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2… That’s just individual brilliance. We were solid and of course very happy with the defending, aggression of the team. The reaction was more important, the individual reaction within their roles,” said Solskjaer at his press conference.
Especially with United having to play City at the weekend. A win against Atalanta would pretty much guarantee the next round of Champions League. United have 6 points, Villarreal and Atalanta have 4 and Young Boys have 3. Villarreal and Young Boys play again.
Villarreal and United could pull away with their group with wins before they face off on the 23rd at Villarreal. A draw with Atalanta could complicate things. But, they should be safe especially with the game against Young Boys being at Old Trafford in their back pocket.
“I think you have to look at the next game, make sure you get a result in that one. Of course, as you say, we’re in a decent position after winning our home games but you need a result away from home as well to go through in the Champions League. All focus is just on this one,” said Ole.
“Then you look forward to the next one after that. We haven’t been thinking about that at all, we know this’ll be a difficult game. We saw how close they were last time to get a 3-1 goal but David pulled some good saves out and we managed to turn it around. Everyone’s focused, of course, we’ve worked on recovery since Saturday night. The turnaround is quick but let’s see who we can choose from.”
“I think Atalanta are a team with a unique style of play. They’re very true and loyal to the style, believing in themselves. We got the game we expected. There’s always some things they might try to do different to win any game. We’re the same as them. We always try to create problems for any opposition and they will create problems for any opposition with their style.”
Despite the critics and other people circling ready for Ole to fail, he stands resolute and understands that it this level you are going to have critics.
“Criticism can make you doubt yourself or you can stand up for yourself. I’ve always enjoyed criticism, so that’s… Just keep that coming, that’s fine. You know, journalists, pundits, experts, we’ve all got different jobs. It’s their job to give their opinions and I’m not to fight with them or have a spot with anyone.”