Ralf's message to players and fans

Tuesday 15 March 2022 07:00

Ralf Rangnick has stressed it is the Manchester United players' job to ensure the fans provide the sort of feverish atmosphere that can help the Reds overcome Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

The Spanish champions were backed by vociferous support at the Wanda Metropolitano in the first leg but, although leading through Joao Felix's excellent header, they were undone by Anthony Elanga's late leveller.

With Atleti known for their high-octane approach under Diego Simeone, it is clear the Reds will need to match the energy and aggression provided by the opposition. To help in that respect, the Old Trafford faithful clearly has a major part to play if we are all to experience another special occasion under the lights.

'We need our supporters to be on top form' Video

'We need our supporters to be on top form'

Rangnick believes our fans can be a "12th and 13th" players on the pitch against Atletico...

In his exclusive pre-match chat with club media, the boss was in no doubt of what is required if United are to pull off a victory that would take us into Friday's draw for the quarter-finals.

On the back of the fabulous 3-2 victory over Tottenham in front of a noisy crowd, the volume needs to be cranked up further once the famous Champions League anthem plays again in advance of the 20:00 GMT kick-off.

"It's 1-1, we play at home and we have to make sure that playing at home is an advantage for us," explained Rangnick. "This is what [Spurs boss] Antonio Conte said after the game, it was a very difficult atmosphere. As I said, it's one of the biggest compliments that you can get if an opponent's coach speaks after the game of a difficult atmosphere for them, a special atmosphere.

"This is what we have to realise. We have to bring our supporters behind us, even more so than they normally are anyway so we have to play in a way so that the fans can really carry us all through the game."

There have already been a couple of stirring evenings at Old Trafford in the group stages of this season's competition, when Cristiano Ronaldo scored a 95th-minute winner against Villarreal before capping a memorable comeback from 2-0 down to beat Atalanta in October.

However, when it comes to special occasions to savour in the knockout stages of the competition, you probably have to go back to 2014 and the 3-0 win over Olympiacos that overturned a two-goal first-leg deficit, with Robin van Persie scoring a hat-trick.

Since then, United have drawn with Bayern Munich and lost to Sevilla, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, so the fans will be hoping for a night to remember.

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Matching Atletico's aggression is going to be vital if the Reds are to see off Simeone's men and it could be an intense scrap for a last-eight spot.

When asked about needing to address this, Rangnick replied: "Especially against a team like this, who come exactly with this kind of approach, they will try to create those moments where it's about physicality. For us, it's about being ready for that and being aware of that,  but also to try to avoid possession of the ball where they can easily get body contact on us.

"This is what we have to do."