4-3-3: Predicted Manchester United XI v Atletico Madrid, Pogba and Fernandes star

Tonight is the big night, Manchester United’s first Champions League knockout match in three years.

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United play Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano, hoping for a solid first-leg result to take back to Old Trafford.

United’s big players will be expected to step up on this night, and manager Ralf Rangnick must find a way to get them in.

Midfield and defense selections are crucial.

United’s starting lineup isn’t quite right for this game. We’ll try to dissect a few intriguing selection decisions made by manager Ralf Rangnick.

The most obvious and straightforward issue is in goal, where David de Gea will face his former team. Then things get a little more complicated.

United has a totally fit group of center backs, but it is really two out of three (Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, and Raphael Varane).

Varane’s Champions League experience makes him a must-pick for this game, and he is also well-versed with Atletico Madrid. Captain Harry Maguire is his most likely partner, with Lindelof the odd man out.

We expect Diogo Dalot to replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka at right-back for this game, and Alex Telles to replace Luke Shaw, who is fresher and has proven to be a competent defender under Rangnick.

United’s midfield is similarly difficult to understand, with four midfielders battling for three spots: Fred, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, and Bruno Fernandes.

Rangnick has been able to rotate in recent games, but he must make a decision now. He’ll want ‘McFred’s’ work rate without compromising the specific game-changing abilities ‘Brogba’ possesses.

That is why we believe Rangnick will play all four for the first time, with Pogba playing wide right in a role similar to the one Jesse Lingard played against Leeds. Pogba is familiar with it after playing in this position last season.

This leaves only two offensive places, which are filled by Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, both of whom are automatic starters.

On the bench, Anthony Elanga, Marcus Rashford, and Jesse Lingard will provide attacking alternatives, with Edinson Cavani remaining in Manchester due to injury.

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