'Nothing changes' for Simeone after Man Utd draw

By Sports Desk February 23, 2022

Diego Simeone insisted nothing has changed in his approach to the Champions League tie with Manchester United, despite Atletico Madrid conceding a late equaliser.

Anthony Elanga came off the bench to net United's leveller in the 80th minute in Madrid on Wednesday, meaning the last-16 clash is all square heading into the second leg at Old Trafford on March 15.

Atleti outshot United 13-7 and finished with an expected goals value of 1.6 to United's 0.5, but the hosts only aimed one effort on target – Joao Felix's early opener.

Marcos Llorente hit the bar for the hosts, but a mistake from Reinildo allowed Elanga to capitalise and net United's 500th European Cup/Champions League goal, with Antoine Griezmann then going agonisingly close to restoring Atleti's lead late on.

Last season's LaLiga champions are winless in their past seven home Champions League matches (D4 L3), since beating Salzburg 3-2 in the 2020-21 group stage, extending their longest run without a win on home soil in the competition.

However, Simeone believes going to Old Trafford with everything on the line is the perfect litmus test for his stuttering side.

"We are the same as before the game started. Nothing changes," he told a news conference. 

"We are going to play in their field with their environment, they will surely have more drive and that will generate a higher rhythm than is usually seen in the Premier League. 

"What better than going to play a fantastic scenario to put everything to the test.

"From a well-executed action by them, they found a mismatch and surgical precision, they got the goal. We saw [from Atletico] a strong team that competes, that was able to take the victory and we hope to continue on this path."

Asked if Atleti's poor home form in the competition could be their downfall, Simeone added: "No, because it's football. You can't continue in the Champions League without winning a game, but from the round of 16 onwards it can be done [at home]."

Simeone's immediate focus will now switch back to LaLiga, with Atleti sitting fifth as it stands ahead of Saturday's home match against Celta Vigo.

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