Manchester United got back to winning ways on Saturday night and will now be hoping to bring that form to Bergamo this Tuesday as they face Gian Piero Gasperini‘s Atalanta. The fixture is United’s fourth of the group stage and their second and final game against the Italian side after a great comeback win at Old Trafford.
With Ole Gunnar Solskjær going into the second of the alleged three games he’s been given to turn United’s season around, this could well prove to be the most important as he looks to get out of the Champions League group stage for the first time in his tenure.
The Red Devils form this season has been somewhat sketchy with regards to the performances but they were still somehow grinding out results up until recently, where results have begun to match the standard of performance. The drastic downturn in the last 6 weeks saw United lose heavily to Liverpool and Leicester, draw with Everton at home and even when they got the three points against this Tuesday’s opponents and Villarreal, they did so unconvincingly.
However, they are still sitting pretty at the top of the group with 6 points from a possible 9 and two points clear of both Villarreal and Atalanta.
Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut, Solskjær’s men have managed a meagre 4 wins out of 10 games conceding 18 goals in the process and managing just one clean sheet which came against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend.
“La Dea” come into this in slightly better form securing a 2-2 draw in Rome against Lazio on Saturday and defeating a struggling Sampdoria side last Wednesday. Gasperini’s team renowned for their free-flowing, all-out attacking football are also vulnerable to conceding goals and are without a clean sheet since September 29th where they squeezed past Young Boys.
They currently sit 5th in Serie A, joint on points with a José Mourinho led Roma side.
Paul Pogba returns to the squad after missing the trip to London at the weekend for the first of his three-match domestic ban following his red card against Liverpool. Amad will also be pleased to be back to full fitness as he returns to his former club for the first time since joining United.
Anthony Martial was also part of the travelling team after failing to make the 18 man squad on Saturday. Solskjær will however be without his reliant Swede centre back, Victor Lindelof as he picked up a knock in training on Monday.Embed from Getty Images
Atalanta’s injury list is slightly more lengthy with Berat Djimsiti, Robin Gosens, Rafael Toloi, Matteo Pessina and Hans Hateboer all out for the European clash. Defender José Palamino is also a doubt due to a thigh injury.
On a more positive note for the Italians, the impressive Merih Demiral returned to action at the weekend and will no doubt be looking to repeat his feat of scoring against the twenty-time champions of England.
Still On Thin Ice
Solskjær would do well to tread carefully against the Italians as pressure still remains on the Norwegian despite a great result against a struggling Tottenham side who have since sacked their manager, Nuno Espirito Santo. Lose this game before the Manchester Derby on Saturday and this mountain may become too steep to climb.