Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has admitted his team needs to be ready to face a ‘hostile atmosphere’ as they prepare to take on Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
Rangnick, who is facing long-serving Atletico boss Diego Simeone for the first time in his career, also expects the game at Wanda Metropolitano to be a ‘physical’ and ‘emotional’ battle.
“Mentally we need to prepare for a very emotional, if not hostile atmosphere,” Rangnick explained as he faced the press on Tuesday afternoon.
“[Simeone] has won trophies with a clear identity, with a recognisable play style. I don't think this has changed in the last years. They are always an emotional side and this reflects the character of the manager. Diego Simeone is probably one of the best emotional managers in Europe.
“The style of the way his teams have always performed reflects those emotions that he brings to the team. We need to match the levels of energy and emotion in both games.
“It will be physical, it will be emotional and we will have to be mentally strong in both games. I will try to prepare our team for that challenge.”
Following the first leg in Madrid this week, United will return to Premier League action for crunch games against Watford, Manchester City and Tottenham over the next few weeks, before hosting Atletico at Old Trafford for the second leg on Tuesday 15 March.
United have only ever faced Atletico twice before, home and away in the now defunct UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup during the 1991/92 campaign. Alex Ferguson’s team were holders at the time, having beaten Barcelona in the previous season’s final, but were knocked out by Atletico by a 4-1 aggregate score-line in the second round after losing 3-0 in the first leg in Madrid.