Manchester United and Atlético Madrid are playing for their season at Old Trafford on Tuesday night when the two sides take the pitch for the second leg of their Champions League last 16 clash.
Both Diego Simeone and Ralf Rangnick only have Europe remaining to them this campaign: Atlético and United have been knocked out of their domestic cup competitions and are vying for a fourth-placed finish at best in their respective leagues.
Arsenal look best-placed in the Premier League to secure that final berth and while Atleti are currently fourth in Spain, the inconsistency of Simeone’s side will hardly dissuade Betis and Real Sociedad from taking that race to the wire.
The Champions League last 16 is Europe’s last chance saloon, with no parachute into the Europa League open to losing sides. While no club would voluntarily aim to slide into the elite competition’s poorer relative, it places increased pressure on those sides remaining, and even more so in the case of those whose chances of silverware elsewhere have been extinguished. In those terms, Atlético have the edge in recent Champions League history: Manchester United have been beyond the last 16 just twice in the last decade, in 2013-14 and 2018-19, during which time Simeone has guided Atleti to two finals, a semi-final and two quarter-finals.