The first song that thundered in the monumental cylinder of the Wanda when it opened its doors to the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 was Fortunate Son, from Creedence. Quite a statement that positions Atlético and its co-religionists on the poor side of the spiritual divide that the fans continue to draw out of habit, or for fun, rather than consistency. He came to say that United, once the richest club on Earth, belongs to the universe of powerful antagonists, and that personalities like Cristiano Ronaldo – stuffed in the red uniform, as well as in white – should be received as villains in the neighborhood of San Blas.
Oblak, Giménez, Savic, Reinildo Mandava, Vrsaljko, Renan Augusto (Lemar, min. 75), Kondogbia, Marcos Llorente, Héctor Herrera, João Félix (Griezmann, min. 75) and Correa
De Gea, Nilsson-Lindelöf (Wan-Bissaka, min. 65), Shaw (Alex Telles, min. 66), Varane, Harry Maguire, Rashford (Anthony Elanga, min. 74), Jadon Sancho (Jesse Lingard, min. 81 ), Bruno Fernandes, Pogba (Matic, min. 65), Fred and Cristiano
goals 1-0 min. 6: Joao Felix. 1-1 min. 79: Anthony Elanga.
Referee Ovid Hategan
Yellow cards Héctor Herrera (min. 45), Shaw (min. 49), Nilsson-Lindelöf (min. 59), Reinildo Mandava (min. 62), Rashford (min. 64), Fred (min. 73), Marcos Llorente (min. .76), Giménez (min. 77) and Alex Telles (min. 82)
As the evening’s folkloric prolegomena gave way to action, football spoke in a less rhetorical, purer language. If the backbone of Manchester United is a nerve conduit that in its most sensitive segment must connect Bruno Fernandes with Cristiano Ronaldo, the first thing the game exhibited was the presence of an away team threatened with paralysis.
Atlético put pressure on in minute one and Herrera stole the ball from Bruno. It is a rare thing in the Portuguese interior to lose a ball, let alone two, when the next minute it was Herrera again who took the ball from him and took the ball from him while Bruno was looking for a way out, driving and raising his head, and instead of teammates who offered I saw red and white shirts that surrounded him.
Fired up by the double insult, Bruno did not turn to try to recover the lost ball, but rather disregarded his tactical duties and advanced in the opposite direction to the action, towards the Atlético field, in search of the one he believed to be the main person responsible for his double dispossession. . He found him in the demilitarized zone, behind Vrsaljko, behind Giménez’s back, elegantly coiffed for the gala, trotting with the panache of a thoroughbred on the track.
There was Cristiano, the very Lucky son the one the song was talking about. Seeing him, Bruno gave him a shout that sounded like an imprecation as he pointed his index finger at him and made the kind of fuss you make to a colleague when he’s sent for beans and the locker room codes are undone under the hood. the weight of the game codes.
If Bruno, the second son of Portuguese football, failed to comply with any formal regulations, Cristiano, the first-born, was guilty of a sacred infraction: the partner in trouble must be offered help as befits the truly brave, and this was equivalent, given the circumstances , to go down to ask for the ball in front of the pivots and not to wait for it behind the central defenders, as Luis Aragonés would say, where crocodiles don’t bite.
The 1-1 constitutes a provisional patch. The background of the situation is murky. The notorious public disagreement between two players who are supposed to be twinned by the national team, made up the worst imaginable indication for United at the start of the match against Atlético. Somehow, the gestures revealed the emotional breakdown of a team that barely clings to fourth place in the Premier threatened by West Ham from fifth. Not for nothing since 2013 has the most representative institution of British football been going through one of the deepest crises in its history, even though the constant injection of capital in the form of expensive signings gives it a certain appearance of a threatening team. It was not, not even against this long-suffering Atlético who dominated him in almost all departments, also in that which is assigned to creativity and individual success, since there was no other more brilliant footballer on the field than João Félix. The third Portuguese in discord, dolphin of the crown of the Portuguese team, was the best on the pitch.
There where João Félix went down to play at a touch that cleared paths, Cristiano got entangled in bicycles and footsteps; there where João scored the 1-0, his countryman struggled to get a good shooting position without succeeding. “I should score more goals,” his coach, Ralf Rangnick, criticized him a week ago, even though he added 15 in 30 games. These are not good times for Cristiano, much less at Wanda.
Rangnick: “We lacked passion”
“It was a great cross from Lodi and a fantastic break from Joao Félix and it was very difficult to defend”, said Ralf Rangnick, in relation to Atlético’s 1-0. The United manager was critical of the lack of enthusiasm he detected in his players to overcome the atmospheric and football pressure in the first half, noting that it was only when he made the changes that he detected an improvement. “Anthony Elanga”, he pointed out, regarding the author of 1-1; He “he showed the kind of passion and determination that we need in all positions, not only to create problems for Atlético but to get through the quarters. There is no need to talk so much about tactics or blackboard plans. These games are won with conviction and energy, and today, the way things have gone, we should be satisfied with the 1-1”.
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