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Preview: Manchester United vs. Atalanta BC - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Manchester United vs. Atalanta BC - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Champions League clash between Manchester United and Atalanta BC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Manchester United will be looking to bounce back from a string of disappointing results when they take on Atalanta BC in Champions League action on Wednesday at Old Trafford.

The hosts fell to another league defeat against Leicester City at the weekend and sit only third in Group F, whilst their upcoming opponents are top of the group and come into the match on the back of a strong Serie A victory.

Match preview

Man United have continued their tendency under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be totally unpredictable from one game to the next.

A strong start to the season is now all but forgotten as the Red Devils have picked up just one point from their last three Premier League games, coming from a 1-1 draw with Everton sandwiched between a loss at home to Aston Villa at the end of September and Saturday's dramatic 4-2 defeat at Leicester.

Mason Greenwood gave his side the lead with a stunner early on at the King Power Stadium but - after Leicester had scored two to take the lead - the replays of Marcus Rashford's equaliser were still playing when Jamie Vardy made it 3-2, with Patson Daka then rubbing salt into their wounds in stoppage time.

Pressure is building on Solskjaer, despite official statements of support from the boardroom, and he will be desperate to pick up a win on Wednesday and perhaps regain some momentum to utilise in both competitions.

Life in Europe's premier competition this season started poorly with a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of group underdogs Young Boys, but United were able to turn another potentially-damaging scoreline around against Villarreal, with Cristiano Ronaldo's 95th-minute winner sealing his side's first three Champions League points of the campaign.

They still have plenty of work to do, however, and will now face the side sitting top of the group.

Atalanta may have made a strong start to their European endeavours for the 2021-22 season, but their Serie A form has been a little more hit-and-miss.

Having finished third in the previous three campaigns, La Dea made a disappointing start this term, losing two of their first seven matches and edging just three narrow victories against teams they should have been comfortably beating.

The weekend saw them produce a far more convincing win away at Empoli, though, with a Josip Ilicic brace, an own goal and a neat Daniel Zapata finish leaving the final scoreline at 4-1 and moving Gian Piero Gasperini's team up to sixth in the standings.

Ilicic will have been disappointed to balloon over a penalty that would have earned him a hat-trick and will be determined to get off the mark in the Champions League against United.

Gasperini will be sure to point out to his team that a win here would leave them in an enviable position for the second set of group games and that Old Trafford is not the fortress of old.

Manchester United Champions League form:
  • L
  • W

Manchester United form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • L

Atalanta BC Champions League form:
  • D
  • W

Atalanta BC form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W

Team News

Man United will be without Raphael Varane, Amad Diallo and Anthony Martial through injury, however Harry Maguire made a quicker return to action than expected and, whilst he struggled against his old side Leicester, he will likely remain in the backline on Wednesday.

Fred and Edinson Cavani returned late from international duty and missed Saturday's game, but will hope to feature against Atalanta.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka's suspension following his red card against Young Boys was reduced to a single game, so the right-back is available for Solskjaer and will likely return in place of Diogo Dalot.

With Atalanta's Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens ruled out through injury, Davide Zappacosta and Joakim Maehle look set to start in the two wing-back slots.

Gasperini will also be without Matteo Pessina and Berat Djimsiti, who are out with respective hamstring and hand injuries.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo

Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Musso; Palomino, Demiral, Toloi; Zappacosta, Freuler, De Roon, Maehle; Malinovskyi, Ilicic; Zapata

We say: Manchester United 2-2 Atalanta BC

There is no head-to-head form to go on between these sides as this is their first meeting in European action, and with both teams blowing hot and cold so far this season it is a tough one to call.

Solskjaer's side experienced all sorts of problems at the back in the loss to Leicester and Atalanta have perhaps found their rhythm, but the home side will have the Old Trafford faithful behind them and know that they cannot afford to lose this game, so we are backing a high-scoring draw.

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