Rangnick reflects on crucial draw
Ralf Rangnick was pleased with the way his Manchester United players dug deep to earn a crucial draw against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League round-of-16 first leg.
Anthony Elanga’s late strike cancelled out Joao Felix’s early opener at the Wanda Metropolitano to set up a tense second leg at Old Trafford on 15 March.
Here’s what Rangnick said to BT Sport after the hard-fought draw…
“I don’t know if I rescued it, but after the performance in the first half, it could only get better because of how we played in the first half. I still cannot believe what we did [in the first half]. We played without conviction, without the necessary aggression against the ball and that’s why we were really struggling in the first half. In the second half we were much better, we had possession in areas that mattered, and I think with another ten minutes to play we might have even won the game. Again, we just have to play better than we did in the first half. I was very disappointed in our performance in the first half.”
“We were too apprehensive with the ball [in the first half]. We didn’t take any risks when we were in possession of the ball, we just played in our own half, without any deep runs, without physicality, and it is difficult against a team like Atletico, conceding an early goal. It was difficult to prevent. I must say it was a brilliant cross straight to the near post, difficult to defend against. But, again, we have to be more aggressive and we have to play with more conviction on the ball. We need to do what we did in the last couple of weeks and also against a team like Atletico we need more deep runs. The way that we scored the goal was exactly that, a deep run from Anthony Elanga, a fantastic pass. We won the ball in the centre of the pitch, and this is how we have to play against them.”
“He is playing as if a dream comes true. He is just a joy and it's fun to watch him play. I wish a few other players would take him as an example, or almost as a role model I would say, not because he is doing everything right, but because he’s just enjoying himself on the pitch and that’s what it’s all about. Football is an important sport and even more so for our supporters or for the media, but it’s still a ball game and you have to enjoy yourself on the pitch. This is what I wish us to do when we play them again in a few weeks.”
WHY LINDELOF PLAYED RIGHT-BACK
“Well, I thought we could do with him for aerial duels, set pieces, free kicks, for us and against us and I think all three central defenders were in good shape. I also thought we could do with three central defenders in that game, defensively but also after seven minutes being one-nil down, the plan [changed]. Of course, I knew it was not his best possible position and I think we could see that in the last half-hour when we had Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] on the pitch and Alex [Telles], we had more possession of the ball. We had more offensive actions, we had more assists from the wings, and more options from the wings. That was the idea behind it, also to possibly switch to a back five if necessary but as I said, in the end, due to that goal we conceded, it was difficult.”
LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SECOND LEG
“Yes, I think in the second half we showed we had quite a few moments to play well but I think [the second leg] will be a different game, playing at home in front of 75,000 fans and [playing with] more conviction than we did in the first half.”