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For An Atletico Team Built To Annoy, Bruno Fernandes Was The Perfect Target

For An Atletico Team Built To Annoy, Bruno Fernandes Was The Perfect Target

Another season without a trophy for Manchester United.

Ahead of tonight's game against Atletico Madrid, their supporters still harboured outside hopes that their team could pull off an unlikely run in the Champions League.

They were in a good position in this tie, drawing away from home in the first leg and seemingly the favourite to advance from the quarter-finals.

What followed was 90 minutes of totally abject football at Old Trafford. Atletico Madrid scored the only goal of the game, playing through the home side far too easily just before the interval.

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While there was plenty of time for Rangnick's side to recover the situation, they never really looked like doing so. There were absolutely terrible and completely deserved to lose the game.

Yet again, their big players didn't show up. If anything, they played right into the opposition's hands.

If there is one thing we know about Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid, it is this: They are purpose built to frustrate the opposition.

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Be it via diving, niggly fouls, time wasting, or just general shithousery, they are the last team you want to face in the circumstances that Manchester United found themselves in tonight.

There have been countless examples down through the years of Atletico thriving in such scenarios. The tie with Liverpool a couple of years ago comes to mind, with the Spanish club emerging as convincing winners on that occasion. There have been plenty of other such incidents in their various Champions League runs over the last decade.

One of their most reliable tactics is to identify one player and frustrate them in particular, either to put them off their game or in an attempt to get them sent off.

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In Bruno Fernandes, they had the perfect victim.

The Portuguese midfielder is easily frustrated at the best of times. He seems to spend most of the match moaning in the general direction of the referee, even on occasions when things are going well for him.

Such a personality was always going to find the going tough against this particular opposition.

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Atletico's opening goal provided a prime example, with United believing that Anthony Elanga had been fouled in the buildup to Lodi's header. As the old saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Ronaldo did his own fair share of complaining throughout the contest, but in fairness to him, he has proven in plenty of instances in the past that he can perform to his peak against Atletico. Unfortunately for his current club, tonight was no such occasion.

Fernandes is an altogether different matter. He has performed well short of his peak for the vast majority of this season. Even when he has found form, his time in England has more often than not been littered with subpar showing against the better teams in the Premier League and European competition.

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Tonight was another such example.

As United sat teetering on the brink of elimination, there were few signs that the 27-year old was about to produce the moments of magic that he was in the team to provide. He gave the ball away cheaply, failed to track back, and just looked generally frustrated.

Indeed, when the going got tough, Fernandes failed to get going.

It was a surprise to see him substituted in the 67th minute. Not that his performance didn't deserve it, but both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick have left him on a number of occasions when it was obvious that he was contributing little to the team.

Without him on the pitch, things didn't improve. That points to the larger issues within this team, with a number of players possessing the same type of attitude issues. In the end, the team's only hope of a trophy in this campaign slipped away without much of a fight.

Their season is highly likely to go in a similar way in the weeks ahead.

In Fernandes, they have just one of a number of high priced individually motivated players who continually fails to show up on the big occasions. Tonight was another example.

Now, United will be forced to focus on salvaging their place in the top four, something that looks unlikely as things currently stand.

They just need to hope that they will not be depending on Bruno Fernandes to pull them out of the fire in a big games towards the end of the season. Tonight, he showed yet again that doesn't seem to be in his makeup.

SEE ALSO: 6 Champions League Last 16 Players That Should Move In The Summer

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