Manchester United star Paul Pogba sends warning to Atletico Madrid ahead of Champions League tie

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Paul Pogba has told Atletico Madrid that Manchester United have marked their card ahead of the Spanish champions’ trip to Old Trafford on Tuesday.

United were comprehensively outplayed at the Wanda Metropolitano three weeks ago but Anthony Elanga’s late equaliser left the tie delicately poised ahead of Tuesday’s return. Joao Felix had given Atletico an early lead in Madrid and Diego Simeone’s side squandered chances to add to their lead before Elanga salvaged a result United did not deserve.

Since the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie, Atletico have won three successive La Liga games to reestablish a firm grip on a top-four position after a frustrating title defence, but United have stumbled against Watford and Manchester City before finally finding some form in downing Tottenham on Saturday.

READ MORE: United find an unexpected Fernandes replacement during Tottenham win

Cristiano Ronaldo’s second hat-trick for United couldn’t have come at a better time and the 3-2 win strengthened United’s own chances of finishing in the top four in the Premier League. But a return to Europe’s elite could also be achieved through winning the Champions League and despite being second best in Spain, Pogba is convinced United have learnt their lessons from that game and will be much improved in front of their own fans.

“Definitely. We knew what we did wrong [in the first leg] and I think we’re going to work well to beat them. That’s the most important thing. Now we are at home and we want to win,” he said.

“We are looking forward to this and we are going to recover to get ready for this game. We are going to prepare ourselves very well for this game and just be confident. That’s it.

“Now we’re just thinking about the next game, which is Champions League. We want to win this one and then we’ll think about the top four after.

Ronaldo had scored only once in 10 games in 2022 before returning to form with his fine hat-trick in the 3-2 win against Tottenham, a haul that made him the leading goalscorer in the history of men’s professional football with 807 goals, according to FIFA. The 37-year-old has made a habit of inflicting pain on Atletico during his career as well, both with city rivals Real Madrid and once he’d moved to Juventus.

He drew a blank in the first leg but has 25 career goals against Atletico and Pogba believes his return to form in front of goal is timely.

“Ronaldo just did what Ronaldo do always, scoring goals,” said the Frenchman. That’s why he’s here and we’re really happy that he’s scoring goals, that he’s happy, that he’s enjoying himself and the win today [Saturday] was just brilliant.”

United had navigated a difficult week after some stinging criticism came their way following the capitulation in the Manchester derby at the Etihad. Ralf Rangnick’s squad were accused of giving up during the 4-1 defeat to City, but Pogba insists the spirit in the camp remains strong and that the win against Tottenham, a game in which they were twice pegged back, was the perfect response.

“Yes, and that’s what we’re going to think about only together,” he said. “We talk about this, the team spirit, the sharpness of you know everyone being there doing their job. I think that helped today.”

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