How Atalanta are preparing for key clash
With just a week to go until our Champions League clash with Atalanta, in Italy, it’s a good time to take stock of how the Serie A side are shaping up.
While United have a free midweek prior to Saturday’s trip to Tottenham in the Premier League, La Dea are in the midst of a run of three league games in six days.
That sequence began on Sunday, when Gian Piero Gasperini’s outfit hosted struggling Udinese at Gewiss Stadium.
Our Group F opponents made four changes to the side which was stung by our late comeback at Old Trafford, with one of the players introduced, Ruslan Malinovskyi, firing them into a 56th-minute lead.
Atalanta were holding on to the three points when coach Gasperini was dismissed for dissent in stoppage time.
Udinese’s Beto then nodded home a 94th-minute equaliser, meaning La Dea failed to take advantage of three of the four sides above them in the table dropping points.
Merih Demiral, who scored against United but came off at half-time in last week’s Old Trafford meeting with a hamstring complaint, and Joakim Maehle (flu) missed the game, adding to Atalanta’s defensive injury list, with Rafael Toloi, Robin Gosens, Berat Djimsiti and Hans Hateboer all currently out.
Next up for the Italians is Wednesday's away game against Sampdoria, as part of a full Serie A midweek fixture list.
They then kick off a few hours before United on Saturday, with eighth-placed Lazio the visitors to Bergamo.
Atalanta are looking to keep up the impressive record of having finished in Italy’s top four in all but one of Gasperini’s five seasons in charge - their previous best was fifth, way back in the 1940s.
After a mixed start, which has seen them win just one of their five home games this season, they sit fifth in Serie A, one point behind Jose Mourinho’s Roma in the Champions League places.
A title tilt is already looking a tough ask though, as Napoli and AC Milan have set an impressive pace.
The pair are currently locked on 25 points after nine games, 10 ahead of Atalanta and, surprisingly, Juventus, who won nine championships in a row between 2011 and 2020.
Atalanta v United takes place on Tuesday 2 November at 20:00 GMT.
The Reds could take a huge step towards qualification from Group F with a victory, as a win would move us five points clear of the Italians with two games to play.
Villarreal (four points) host Young Boys (three) in the other fixture.