Man Utd boss Rangnick explains decision to drop Pogba and Rashford for Atletico Madrid Champions League clash

Ralf Rangnick has explained his three changes from the weekend for Manchester United’s second leg against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.

Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford were replaced by Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Elanga in the starting line-up, while Scott McTominay returned from injury to start ahead of Nemanja Matic.

Manchester United enter the tie level at 1-1.

What has been said?

“Well, to start with, it was also about fresh legs and also about, as I’ve said, playing with a high level of aggression and energy,” Rangnick told BT Sport. “And that is why I decided [to select] this starting XI.”

On Elanga, who scored Manchester United’s lone goal in the first leg, he said: “Yes, [the first-leg goal helped], but this is not the only reason. It’s also about verticality and about speed.

“We saw in the first leg this could be a major issue for us today.”

Luke Shaw is the only player unavailable to Manchester United, as he’s still dealing with Covid-19.

The bigger picture

Rashford has struggled throughout the season while Elanga has come on as a key attacking piece in recent months.

Fernandes, of course, is considered one of the club’s most important players. Pogba is high-profile too, so his exclusion is certainly notable, but he may be introduced as a substitute.

McTominay has been Rangnick’s first-choice over Matic when healthy.

Given their struggles in the Premier League, it’s vital for Manchester United to advance past Atletico Madrid in the last 16 in order to help salvage their season. They will be expected to do so playing at Old Trafford – but they’ve slipped up at home plenty of times this campaign.

Further reading

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