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Atlético vs Manchester United: UEFA Champions League background, form guide, previous meetings

Atlético de Madrid and Manchester United meet for the first time in more than 30 years in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.

The sides last met in the European Cup Winners' Cup in November 1991
The sides last met in the European Cup Winners' Cup in November 1991 Getty Images

Atlético de Madrid and Manchester United meet for the first time in more than 30 years in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.

• While Atleti have reached the knockout rounds for the eighth time in the last nine seasons, their English opponents are in the last 16 for the first time since 2018/19 – although this is their 12th appearance at this stage overall, three more than the Spanish club.

• This season United finished first in Group F after bouncing back from a shock opening defeat while Atlético had to wait until Matchday 6 to secure progress from Group B, a 3-1 win at Porto taking them through as runners-up behind Liverpool.

 Ryan's Giggs's first European game was the return leg of the 1991/92 tie against Atlético
Ryan's Giggs's first European game was the return leg of the 1991/92 tie against AtléticoGetty Images

Previous meetings
• Atlético ended United's defence of the European Cup Winners' Cup in the sides' only previous tie, in the 1991/92 second round.

• The Spanish side seized control of the contest with a 3-0 first-leg win in Madrid, Paulo Futre opening the scoring for Luis Aragonés' team in the 32nd minute and making it 2-0 in the 86th, two minutes before Manolo added Atleti's third at their old Vicente Calderón home.

• Mark Hughes gave Alex Ferguson's United hope of a comeback four minutes into the Old Trafford return but the home side were unable to add to that goal and Bernd Schuster settled the contest with a 68th-minute equaliser.

• Atlético went on to lose on away goals to Club Brugge in the quarter-finals.

Atlético vs Man. United: the latest from the match
Watch Atlético breakaway goal

Form guide

• Atleti managed only two wins in this season's group stage (D1 L3), both away from home – 2-1 at AC Milan on Matchday 2 and, crucially, 3-1 at Porto in their final fixture. At home they drew 0-0 with Porto on Matchday 1 before defeats against Liverpool (2-3) and Milan (0-1).

• Champions of Spain for the 11th time in 2020/21, Atlético finished two points ahead of Real Madrid in the final Liga standings to give them their second league championship under Diego Simeone, who also guided them to the title in 2013/14.

• This season was Atlético's ninth successive UEFA Champions League group campaign and 12th overall, level with Valencia; only Barcelona and Real Madrid (both 26 participations) have featured more among Spanish sides.

• All but two of Atleti's 12 group appearances have extended into the knockout stages.

• Last season, Simeone's side finished second in their section behind holders Bayern München, picking up nine points. They were the only side to deny Bayern victory in Group A, the 1-1 draw in Madrid on Matchday 5 ending the German club's record run of UEFA Champions League victories at 15.

• Atlético then lost 1-0 against Chelsea in the first leg of their round of 16 tie, a game that was played in Bucharest, before a 2-0 defeat in London.

• The Madrid club have reached the quarter-finals or better in five of their last eight UEFA Champions League campaigns – all under Simeone.

• The win at Porto was only Atlético's seventh in 20 European matches (D4 L9).

• Atlético have won five of their eight round of 16 ties. A 1-0 first-leg win at home to Liverpool in 2019/20 extended their unbeaten run in home UEFA Champions League knockout matches to 14 (W9 D5), since a 3-2 loss to Ajax in the 1996/97 quarter-final second leg that sealed a 4-3 aggregate defeat.

• Atleti have been victorious in nine of their 12 two-legged knockout contests against English teams, last season's aggregate defeat by Chelsea ending a run of five successive victories; only Derby County (1974/75 UEFA Cup) and Bolton Wanderers (2007/08 UEFA Cup) had previously eliminated them.

• Atlético lost home (2-3) and away (0-2) to Liverpool in this season's group stage, ending each game with ten men, to make it four successive losses against English clubs.

• The Matchday 3 defeat in Madrid against Liverpool was only Atlético's second reverse in 15 visits from English clubs (W8 D5) – the other a 2-1 loss against Chelsea in 2017 in their first European game at the Estadio Metropolitano.

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Manchester United

• Beaten 2-1 at Young Boys on Matchday 1, United went on to pick up 11 points from their next five games to finish first in Group F, sealing progress as section winners with a 2-0 win in Spain at Villarreal, under caretaker boss Michael Carrick, on Matchday 5. That was United's first away victory in the section, after the defeat in Switzerland and a 2-2 draw at Atalanta.

• The Manchester club have now won their UEFA Champions League section 16 times, although this is only the second time since 2013/14.

• This season was United's 24th appearance in the UEFA Champions League group stage, an English record, with Arsenal (19) second on that list and Chelsea (18) third. Overall, only Barcelona and Real Madrid (both 26) and Porto and Bayern (both 25) have featured more often.

• The Red Devils have now qualified for the knockout phase on 19 occasions, also an English record, although they missed out in 2020/21.

• Under former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær, United finished third in their section in 2020/21 behind Paris Saint-Germain and Leipzig, a 3-2 loss in Germany on Matchday 6 enabling the latter to leapfrog United into second place.

• United therefore moved into the UEFA Europa League, beating Real Sociedad (4-0 a, 0-0 h), AC Milan (1-1 h, 1-0 a), Granada (2-0 a, 2-0 h) and Roma (6-2 h, 2-3 a) en route to a final against Villarreal where they went down 11-10 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Gdańsk.

• United finished second in the Premier League in 2020/21, 12 points behind local rivals Manchester City.

• European Cup winners in 1968, United lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy in 1999 and 2008, also reaching the final in 2009 and 2011 – the latter four all under Ferguson.

• United have scored 399 goals in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final.

• Solskjær left United on 21 November; eight days later, Ralf Rangnick was appointed as interim manager until the end of the season.

• United had lost three successive away games in the UEFA Champions League before drawing at Atalanta on Matchday 4, and have been beaten in five of the last nine, winning the other three games.

• This is the English club's 12th round of 16 tie (W7 L4). In the most recent, in 2018/19, they beat Paris on away goals, retrieving a 2-0 first-leg loss at Old Trafford with a 3-1 away victory in France.

• That first-leg defeat means United have lost three of their last four home games at this stage of the UEFA Champions League, the other defeats against Spanish opponents – 1-2 against both Real Madrid in 2014 and Sevilla in 2018. Their overall last-16 record at Old Trafford is W6 D1 L4.

• United's record in two-legged knockout ties against Spanish clubs is W8 L9, beating Real Sociedad and Granada last season. They had been eliminated from European competition by Liga opposition in each of the previous three seasons – by Sevilla in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League round of 16 (0-0 a, 1-2 h) and in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League semi-final (1-2), and by Barcelona in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League quarter-final (0-1 h, 0-3 a) – and also lost last season's UEFA Europa League final on penalties to another Spanish side, Villarreal.

• This season's results against Villarreal (2-1 h, 2-0 a) have made it seven games without defeat for United against Spanish sides (W5 D2) with last season's UEFA Europa League final classed as a draw.

• United have still won only 18 of their 64 UEFA matches against Spanish opposition (D24 L22) and six of the 29 in Spain (D11 L12).

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Links and trivia

• Born in Madrid, David de Gea came through the ranks at Atlético, whom he joined in 2003 aged 13. He made his first-team debut as a second-half substitute in a 2-0 Matchday 2 defeat at Porto in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League and went on to play 84 games for the club in all competitions, including eight in Atleti's victorious UEFA Europa League campaign in 2009/10. De Gea also played in a Copa del Rey final defeat by Sevilla the same season and in the 2-0 win against Inter in the UEFA Super Cup in August 2010, joining United the following summer.

• Cristiano Ronaldo played for Atleti's city rivals Real Madrid – where he is the all-time leading scorer – between 2009 and 2018, scoring 311 Liga goals in 292 appearances and winning four UEFA Champions League titles. He scored in the 2014 defeat of Atlético and converted the winning penalty in the shoot-out two years later, also hitting a first-leg hat-trick in the 2017 semi-final. Ronaldo faced Atlético 31 times in all competitions for Madrid, scoring 22 goals (W14 D9 L8).

• Ronaldo also scored a second-leg hat-trick as Juventus overturned a 2-0 first-leg defeat at Atlético in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League with a 3-0 win in the Turin return.

• Have also played in Spain:
Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid 2011–21)
Eric Bailly (Espanyol 2011–15, Villarreal 2015–16)
Juan Mata (Real Madrid Castilla 2006/07, Valencia 2007–11)

• Varane won four UEFA Champions Leagues – including against Atlético in the 2014 and 2016 finals – three UEFA Super Cups, four FIFA Club World Cups, three Spanish Liga titles and the 2013/14 Copa de Rey with Madrid.

• Varane's record against Atlético with Real Madrid was W9 D9 L7. Aside from the wins in 2014 and 2016, the centre-back was also part of the side that eliminated Atleti from the UEFA Champions League in the 2014/15 quarter-finals (0-0 a, 1-0 h) and the 2016/17 semi-finals (3-0 h, 1-2 a) and played 120 minutes in Madrid's 4-2 extra-time defeat by their neighbours in the 2018 UEFA Super Cup.

• Luis Suárez was in the Barcelona side that eliminated United in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, playing 90 minutes in both a 1-0 win at Old Trafford and a 3-0 victory at the Camp Nou.

• Atlético's January signing Daniel Wass started both legs of Celta Vigo's defeat against United in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

• Have played in England:
Luis Suárez (Liverpool 2011–14)
Stefan Savić (Man City 2011–12)

• Suárez's record against United for Liverpool was W2 D1 L4. He scored twice, both at Old Trafford – a 2-1 United victory on 11 February 2012 and Liverpool's 3-0 win on 16 March 2014.

• Have played together:
Marcos Llorente & Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid 2015, 2017/18)
Felipe, Héctor Herrera & Alex Telles (Porto 2016–19)
Felipe, Héctor Herrera & Diogo Dalot (Porto 2016–18)
Marcos Llorente & Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid 2015, 2017–19)
Jan Oblak & Nemanja Matić (Benfica 2013/14)
Jan Oblak & Victor Lindelöf (Benfica B 2013, Benfica 2014)

• International team-mates:
Marcos Llorente, Koke & David de Gea (Spain)
José María Giménez, Luis Suárez & Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
João Félix & Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Dalot (Portugal)
Antoine Griezmann, Thomas Lemar & Raphaël Varane, Paul Pogba (France)
Renan Lodi, Matheus Cunha & Fred, Alex Telles (Brazil)

• Pogba, Varane and Griezmann started for France as they defeated Spain 2-1 in the 2021 UEFA Nations League final. Koke came on for Spain with De Gea an unused substitute.

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