Atletico Madrid welcome Manchester United to the Wanda Metropolitano tomorrow evening in a Champions League last 16 clash that’s impossible to call. Neither side are in a good moment although both are most certainly traditional heavyweights.
Atletico, despite their status as La Liga’s defending champions, are currently fifth in the league table although they’re level on points with fourth-placed Barcelona. They’re 15 points behind pace-setting neighbours Real Madrid. Their last game at home saw them lose 1-0 to bottom-placed Levante although they did bounce back to beat Osasuna 3-0 at the weekend.
United are in a similar position in the Premier League. They’re fourth in the league table, four points clear of fifth-placed West Ham United but four behind third-placed Chelsea and a whopping 17 off league leaders and city rivals Manchester City.
Rodrigo de Paul joined Atletico during the summer from Udinese and the Argentine international has proven himself one of the finest midfielders in La Liga since. Speaking to Mundo Deportivo, he touched on Atletico’s feelings going into the game.
“As I see and understand football, I think there’s no need to be on a good run of form before a game of the importance of this Wednesday,” De Paul said.
“Playing in the Champions League with this shirt, with the way the Wanda Metropolitano is going to be, with that rival and the history they have… These are all ingredients that are going to make the team super motivated and eager.
“This team, on the inside, never has doubts regarding what we can do. You see how we work. It’s just a matter of getting the results back on track. You have to remember that this team, until May, will continue to be the champions of Spain. That’s enough of a reason for us to be respected.”