Atalanta head coach Gian Piero Gasperini is braced for a reaction from wounded Manchester United in Wednesday’s Champions League encounter.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side returned from the international break with a galling 4-2 defeat at Leicester, meaning they have lost four of their last seven matches in all competitions.
The only two victories during that stretch came at the death against West Ham and Villarreal, but Atalanta boss Gasperini is not being lulled into a false sense of security.
The Italian head coach, who has done wonders with the Bergamo club, does not believe the situation at Old Trafford is as bad as some make out and expects a tough evening.
“I think they’re going to want to react aren’t they, quite clearly,” Gasperini said. “They’re going to want to pull out a really good reaction in front of their fans.
“This is a different competition and it’s true to say that perhaps they’ve had a couple of setbacks of late, but by the same token I saw the game against Leicester and in the first half in particular they played really well.
“You have to bear in mind that sometimes you’re playing against good teams as well.
“But I think that the fact of the matter is, we’re playing against a top team. We are playing a top team and I don’t think they’re in crisis or difficulty from that point of view. I don’t think that’s the case at all.”
Atalanta sit top of Group F after drawing 2-2 at Villarreal and beating Young Boys 1-0 but the Serie A side are without Robin Gosens, Hans Hateboer, Rafael Toloi, Berat Djimsiti and Matteo Pessina.
It is a hurdle popular midfielder Marten De Roon hopes they can overcome at Old Trafford, where he got a first-hand taste of the home crowd – and United’s comeback qualities – in 2016.
The Holland midfielder played for Middlesbrough during the 2016/17 season and was eyeing a Premier League victory, only for Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba to score in the final five minutes to snatch a 2-1 win.
“I played here four years ago, that’s true, but with a completely different team, it has to be said,” De Roon said.
“I can tell you that playing in front of 70 to 75,000 fans at Old Trafford is an amazing, emotional feeling.
“But ultimately, I do hope that tomorrow the result is going to be a lot better than the result we achieved four years ago.”