Rangnick praises Simeone and 'emotional' Atletico ahead of Champions League clash

By Sports Desk February 22, 2022

Ralf Rangnick has heaped praise upon his opposite number Diego Simeone ahead of Manchester Untied's Champions League first-leg clash with Atletico Madrid. 

Rangnick, who is taking charge of just the third Champions League knockout tie of his career after reaching the semi-finals with Schalke in 2010-11, was rewarded for guiding the Red Devils to top of Group F with a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano. 

Despite winning LaLiga last season, Atletico have endured a difficult campaign domestically, and are currently fighting with a rejuvenated Barcelona for a place in Spain's top four.

Atletico have also lost each of their last four Champions League meetings with English opposition, but Rangnick was keen to emphasise Simeone's achievements in Madrid, stressing that United will have to match their hosts both mentally and physically if they are to stand a chance of progressing.

"He has won trophies with a clear identity, with a recognisable style", Rangnick said of Simeone. "I don't think this has changed in the last few years. 

"They are always an emotional side, and this reflects the character of the manager. Simeone is probably one of the best emotional managers in Europe. 

"The style and the way his teams have always performed reflects those emotions that he brings to the team. We need to match those levels of energy and emotion in both games. 

"It will be physical, it will be emotional, and we will have to be mentally strong. I will try to prepare our team for that challenge."

Rangnick has only lost one of his 15 games since taking the reins at United, but a recent FA Cup exit plus draws against Burnley and Southampton brought renewed criticism of the Red Devils' performances.

However, attacking midfielder Bruno Fernandes has defended their displays, as he aims to fire United to their 500th goal in the history of the European Cup and Champions League.

 

"I think the team has been playing well even, in the games we didn't win", Fernandes, who scored in Sunday's dramatic 4-2 win at Leeds United, said.

"Obviously when you don't get the result, it's not perfect. Winning games [makes] you feel more confident. 

"Going into this game, which is an important one, we know that having the confidence of winning games gives you something more. If we stick from the plan from the first to the last minute, we can win the game."

Fernandes has the most goal involvements (15) of any Manchester United player in the Premier League this season, and has recorded the most assists (five) of any player in the Champions League this term, but is yet to find the net in Europe himself this campaign.

Related items

  • Valverde set for Athletic Bilbao return after Uriarte wins presidential election Valverde set for Athletic Bilbao return after Uriarte wins presidential election

    Ernesto Valverde, not Marcelo Bielsa, is set to become Athletic Bilbao's next coach after Jon Uriarte won the club's presidential election on Friday.

    Valverde has coached Athletic on two previous occasions, from 2003 to 2005 and 2013 to 2017. No coach has overseen more games for the club than his tally of 306.

    He enjoyed success with Athletic during his second spell, leading the team to Europe in each campaign and winning the Supercopa de Espana in 2015-16, beating Barcelona 5-1.

    In 2017, Valverde was appointed Barca coach. He won LaLiga in his two full seasons at Camp Nou, and a Copa del Rey title in 2018, but failure in the Champions League placed him on thin ice and he was dismissed in late 2019.

    The 58-year-old has since been out of work but earlier this week, Athletic presidential candidate Uriarte stated that Valverde would become the club's new coach should he win the election.

    Another candidate, Ricardo Barkala, had also backed Valverde to be the coach, while Inaki Arechabaleta had chosen Marcelo Bielsa – another former Athletic coach who is fondly remembered in the Basque country.

    Yet Bielsa will not be returning to San Mames just yet, and instead it is Valverde who is set to be appointed following Uriarte's victory.

    Uriarte, the youngest of the three candidates at 43, is a former banker who co-founded ticket portal Ticketbis, which was sold to eBay in 2016. He won the election with 46.71 per cent of the vote.

    Arechabaleta was second with a 33.72 per cent share, with Barkala coming in third (18.13 per cent).

  • England 'really have to improve' despite thrashing Netherlands, warns Wiegman England 'really have to improve' despite thrashing Netherlands, warns Wiegman

    Sarina Wiegman is "absolutely happy" with England's progress ahead of the Women's Euro 2022, but she did not see a stunning 5-1 defeat of the Netherlands as cause to get carried away.

    England have never lost back-to-back matches against the Oranje, yet their previous meeting had been a crushing 3-0 reverse in the Euro 2017 semi-finals.

    Wiegman was in the Netherlands dugout on that occasion, guiding her country to a home tournament success.

    That is now her aim with the Lionesses, and Friday's victory at Elland Road surely laid down a marker, with Beth Mead scoring twice – either side of goals from Ella Toone and Lauren Hemp – after Lucy Bronze had cancelled out Lieke Martens' opener.

    England are yet to lose in their 13 games under Wiegman, scoring 80 times across those matches, but the manager still saw room for improvement.

    "Maybe," Wiegman told ITV Sport when asked if she had to temper expectations. "For us, it's just that when we lose, we go with our plan; when we win, we go with our plan.

    "We had a good win, but we cannot think we are there. Today showed that we have still lots of things to do.

    "Things went really well, but lots of things didn't go well, and we really have to improve that, too. We'll start working on that again on Monday."

    That is not to say Wiegman was unhappy with what she saw, adding: "I'm absolutely happy. It was such a high-level game.

    "Of course the score says a lot: 5-1. That's really good, the game in the second half was really good, so there are very exciting things to see.

    "Yes, we're in a good place, but still we have some things to improve."

    The slow start was undoubtedly one area that could have concerned Wiegman, although she was enthused by England's response to only the third goal they have conceded in her tenure – this the first time they have trailed.

    "It's very nice to score five goals, but for us it actually was good that we got behind for the first time and how we reacted to that," she said.

    "We needed to come back from not playing well, conceding a goal, and get the game to a higher standard. That was good."

  • Neville urges Man Utd owners to invest amid reported Eriksen tussle Neville urges Man Utd owners to invest amid reported Eriksen tussle

    Manchester United's owners must invest to make the club attractive to potential signings amid a reported battle with Brentford to sign Christian Eriksen.

    That is the message from United great Gary Neville, who is frustrated with how the Glazer family run the club.

    Eriksen is said to be considering a move between Brentford and United, which might seem unusual given the contrasting statures of the two clubs.

    The offer from United is reported to be far more financially lucrative, but the Denmark midfielder may repay the faith shown in him by Thomas Frank, who gave him a chance to prove his fitness – and quality – a little over six months after Eriksen had collapsed on the pitch at Euro 2020 due to a heart problem.

    Eriksen scored once and assisted four goals in 11 Premier League games to help Brentford maintain their top-flight status, having joined the Bees in January after being released from Inter due to Serie A rulings preventing players from featuring with a cardioverter-defibrillator fitted.

    The 30-year-old also created 30 chances following his Brentford bow in February, with only Martin Odegaard (38) and Kevin De Bruyne (42) providing more opportunities in the Premier League over that period.

    As Erik ten Hag looks to rebuild at United, Neville urged the Glazers to invest to make the club appealing for transfer targets again.

    "That's why dividends have to stop for a period," Neville posted on Twitter in response to recent reports that Eriksen is yet to make his mind up.

    "Every penny has to go back into the club until it becomes attractive again. The club has become a graveyard for players.

    "Culturally for owners to take cash out of a poorly performing business is demoralising."

    Jurrien Timber and Antony have also been linked to reunite with their former Ajax coach Ten Hag, but Christopher Nkunku will not be joining United after penning a contract extension with RB Leipzig.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.