Atlético Madrid

Atletico Madrid predicted lineup vs Manchester United - Champions League

Grey Whitebloom
Diego Simeone has led Atletico Madrid to four European finals, winning half of them
Diego Simeone has led Atletico Madrid to four European finals, winning half of them / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

Atletico Madrid welcome Manchester United to the Spanish capital for the opening round of the Champions League knockout stages on Wednesday.

Diego Simeone has never faced Manchester United as a manager, but did do battle - and with El Cholo it is always a battle - against the club three times in his playing days.

Simeone started both legs as Sir Alex Ferguson's side knocked his Inter out of the Champions League quarter-finals en route to their famous treble in 1999. The following season Simeone made his debut for Lazio in the UEFA Super Cup against Manchester United, coming on for the final stages of a 1-0 win.

Here's the XI El Cholo may deploy this week.

Atletico Madrid predicted lineup vs Manchester United - Champions League

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Jan Oblak (GK) - No goalkeeper in Europe's top five league has a worse save rate than the once formidable Oblak, shipping a scarcely believable 50% of the shots that are on target (per FBref).

Stefan Savic (CB) - During his year with Manchester City, Savic only faced their Mancunian rivals once, coming on for the second half of an FA Cup tie the Sky Blues lost 3-2 in 2012.

Jose Maria Gimenez (CB) - Having overcome a nasty bout of COVID-19 to play the full 90 minutes in Atletico's galling defeat to basement-dwellers Levante last week, Gimenez is expected to shake off a knock that forced him off against Osasuna on Saturday.

Mario Hermoso (CB) - One of only three outfielders to have started every Champions League match for Atletico this term, Hermoso's flexibility is crucial in allowing Simeone to morph between a back-three and four.

2. Midfielders & wing-backs

Sime Vrsaljko (RWB) - The World Cup finalist's presence in the absence of the departed Kieran Trippier unshackles Marcos Llorente from the defensive manacles at wing-back.

Marcos Llorente (CM) - Among a squad enduring a collective drop off, Llorente's offering of no goals and one assist this term represents the sharpest decline compared to his 25 direct goal contributions (13 goals, 12 assists) last season.

Rodrigo de Paul (CM) - The former Valencia, Racing Club and Udinese midfielder could be poised to make his first ever appearance in the Champions League knockout stages.

Hector Herrera (CM) - Koke has been diagnosed with a thigh injury and will likely miss this one. Someone else will have to wear the captain's armband, while Herrera could take his spot in midfield.

Reinildo (LWB) - With Yannick Carrasco suspended and Thomas Lemar's availability in doubt, the winter arrival is filling sizeable boots if he is pushed up the pitch.

3. Forwards

Luis Suarez (ST) - In nine career meetings against Manchester United, Suarez has only scored twice, both for Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Angel Correa (ST) - 'Angelito' enjoys and endures a contradictory relationship with a manager who lavishes praise on him in public, but frequently benches him despite his status as the side's top scorer.