Raphael Varane returned to the heart of Manchester United’s defence for tonight’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid and helped his side to a valuable draw.
Before the game there was a lot of speculation as to whether manager Ralf Rangnick would recall Varane, who has won the tournament four times with Real Madrid, to the starting line-up and if so, who of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire would make way.
In the end Rangnick surprised everyone by picking all three, with Lindelof playing as a right back when in possession and pushing back inside when defending.
And although the experiment seemed to have backfired after Atleti took the lead in the seventh minute, Varane and his teammates did not concede again.
In fact, the Rojiblancos did not register another shot on target throughout the rest of the game.
Varane’s statistics backed up his importance to the crucial draw.
The Frenchman won 100% of his aerial duels and 75% of all his duels.
He registered an impressive 87% pass accuracy and completed 7 out of 10 long passes.
Varane also made five clearances, five recoveries, one block and one interception.
Raphael Varane’s game by numbers vs Atletico Madrid:
100% aerial duels won
75% duels won
87% pass accuracy
10 attempted long balls
7 successful long balls
5 ball recoveries
Champions League Varane. 🇫🇷💪 pic.twitter.com/w8xlmHr4Rw
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 23, 2022
The question now for Rangnick going forward is who should be his starting centre-back pairing.
Lindelof was subbed in the game but was playing out of position. Maguire made errors including being beaten to the ball and outjumped by the diminutive João Felix for the Atletico goal.
However, Maguire is the club captain and usual choice in the left hand centre-back role.