Ralf Rangnick says Manchester United have "a fantastic opportunity" ahead of Atletico Madrid clash
Image courtesy of Ash Donelon / Getty Images

As Manchester United prepare to face Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, Ralf Rangnick spoke to the press to preview the game.

After the first leg finishing a goal a piece three weeks ago, the tie remains firmly in the balance.

United struggled for large periods in Madrid after Joao Felix's early opener, but a late Anthony Elanga goal provided Rangnick's men with a lifeline.

And now both sides are 90 minutes away from qualification to the quarter-finals – a feat that would be a massive boost for either team as the end of the season rapidly approaches.

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Here's what Rangnick had to say ahead of Tuesday evening's match:

Tuesday's match will be the first UEFA Champions League knockout game at Old Trafford in three years, yet the United faithful feel that their club should be no strangers to these occasions. 

Although lifting the trophy this year seems like an unlikely prospect, qualifying for the next round could provide a huge boost for the Red Devils and potentially act as a catalyst for Rangnick's men to go all the way.

When asked about his side's chances, the German said:

"I would ask how much of a boost would it be to win the game tomorrow and this is exactly how we go into the game tomorrow.

"We have a fantastic opportunity to be in the top eight teams in Europe if we beat them tomorrow and this is exactly what we're trying to achieve.

"I think the game against Tottenham on which level we can play and with another 10 or 20% on top of that, I'm sure we can also win the game tomorrow," he said.

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"For us, it's more important about our own sporting ambition, we are highly ambitious, we want to proceed.

"We want to show that we can compete with the best teams in Europe and therefore we will try everything to win the game tomorrow," Rangnick continued.

  • Old Trafford can be the 12th man

Although it has been three years since United fans were able to watch a UEFA Champions League knockout game at Old Trafford, they will not have forgotten how electric these nights can be.

The Old Trafford faithful have managed to push their side onto greatness in many European games, and Rangnick is hoping for more of the same on Tuesday:

"We need both our players and our supporters to be on top form tomorrow night. Our supporters play a vital role, it's always a very special atmosphere at Old Trafford.

"Even more so in international games and in the end they can not only be our 12th but also our 13th player on the pitch and make the difference, making it a very special experience for everybody," the German said.

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"But, in the end, it's obviously up to us, we have to create those moments and then I think the rest will automatically be done by our fantastic supporters.

"I think Antonio Conte said after the game said that it was a very difficult atmosphere for them to play and I think this is probably one of the biggest compliments you can get, if the head coach of the opponents says that after the game," Rangnick continued.

Having lifted the trophy five times across his career, and with an extraordinary goalscoring record against Tuesday's opponents, all eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese scored a breathtaking hat-trick against Tottenham on Saturday, and Rangnick is hoping the 37-year-old can repeat his heroics:

"If he can score another three goals, we will see, I mean, it's not so easy to against this team at all. I think his overall performance was just good, if not even very good, and this is obviously what we hope to get from him again tomorrow night.

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"But it's not only about Cristiano, it's about the whole team. We saw in the first half in Madrid what we should not do, how we should not play and this was a big topic yesterday and today when we spoke pre-match about tomorrow's game," he said.

"We have to know what it tactically takes and the rest I think is all about energy, we were the team against Spurs who just wanted to win that game, that became obvious and our supporters played a vital role."

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