Atletico Madrid Ballon d’Or nominee has lost it to give Manchester United Champions League boost – Casey Evans

Manchester United will return to Champions League action against an Atletico Madrid side famed for their heroic defensive feats.

Goalkeeper Jan Oblak can usually be found at the heart of these seismic displays.

Oblak has been considered among the very best keepers in the world and was nominated for the Ballon d’Or in 2017 and 2018.

He is also a five-time winner of the Ricardo Zamora award, which is given to the keeper who boasts the lowest goals-to-games ratio in LaLiga.

And of course, United fans will remember his standout performance against Liverpool in 2020, which helped knock the holders out of the Champions League.

Like United’s own David de Gea, Oblak is a fantastic shot-stopper who fits well in with Atletico’s system, which looks to minimize effective shooting angles and make shots as difficult as possible for their opposition.

Diego Simeone has his team incredibly well-drilled and in the Champions League they usually look to starve their opposition of chances and slowly killed their spirit before taking the opportunity to steal a goal.

That game plan depends on whether Oblak is able to stop the chances that to get past his defence.

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But, as United found a couple of years ago with De Gea, when your goalkeeper loses form everything seems to fall apart. And the Reds could reap benefits in this Champions League tie.

Last season, over 38 games played for Atletico, Oblak only conceded 24 goals and kept 18 clean sheets in LaLiga. He also averaged 2.6 saves per 90 minutes played and, according to Understat, Atletico outperformed their xG against by 10.67.

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However this term he has already conceded 30 in 25 games, with only seven clean sheets to his name. His average saves per game are down to 1.3 and Atletico have an xG against of 22.9, meaning that the Slovenian has conceded more than should be reasonably expected from the quality of chances he has faced.

We can’t forget that goalkeepers seem to always have their standout game of the season against United and this could be no different with Oblak on Wednesday night.

But Ralf Rangnick’s men must do everything to grasp an unexpected chance to stop Simeone’s side getting up to their old Champions League tricks.

Do you think Manchester United can secure a result against Atletico Madrid? Follow our United On My Mind writer Casey Evans on Twitter and get involved in the discussion in the comments section below.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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