Atletico Madrid are undergoing one of their worst patches in recent history.
Diego Simeone’s side were defeated at home by 20th placed Levante on Wednesday night.
Less than a week before facing Manchester United, the defending Spanish champions look miserable.
They are on course to finish outside the top four in La Liga and could end the season without any silverware.
Atlético Madrid 0 – 1 Levante: More misery for Atlético, as they lose 1-0 at home to bottom club Levante. This was only Levante's second win of the season in La Liga.
Atlético are now 15 points off the top of the table with 14 games left to play. pic.twitter.com/T3aCiWcjAm
— The Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) February 16, 2022
One of their biggest issues has been the horrific defending. Once a major strength of Simeone’s side, the defence has completely collapsed this season.
The Levante match aside, Atletico have conceded two or more goals in six of their last seven games.
Jan Oblak’s poor form has played a major part in this. The Slovenian has a low 48% shot-stopping percentage, which is one of the worst among all goalkeepers in La Liga.
For the tie against Man United, Atletico will be without their main creator Yannick Carrasco. The Belgian faces a three-match suspension for his red card against Porto.
United themselves have glaring issues but especially given the Spanish side’s even greater problems, they should start the tie as favourites.
Ralf Rangnick’s side can demolish Atletico’s backline with their pace. Jose Maria Gimenez and Stefan Savic are relatively slow and can be got at by runs in behind.
Players like Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga could be vital in exploiting Atletico’s weakness. However, with away goals no longer a part of the competition, the home side has an even bigger advantage.
Atletico are a side filled with quality players that could turn up at any moment. United must be cautious and approach the game pragmatically.