Premier League heavyweight Manchester United travels to Madrid to take on reigning La Liga champion Atletico Madrid in a Champions League last 16 match Wednesday.
United veteran Cristiano Ronaldo, in particular, will be happy to return to the Spanish capital to face Atletico once again.
Ronaldo has scored 25 goals against Atletico in his career. They include an extra time goal in 2014 and one in the shoot-out two years later when the then Real Madrid player Ronaldo helped beat Atletico in Champions League finals.
The Red Devils have enjoyed mixed fortunes under interim manager Ralf Rangnick after Ole Gunnar Solskjar was dismissed, securing 25 points from 12 games to take United from sixth to fourth.
However, a 4-2 weekend win at Leeds – in which it survived fightback by the host – should boost morale for the Madrid game.
"I hope this experience will also give us additional energy for the Champions League and upcoming games in the Premier League," Rangnick said.
He has also been beset by reports about the challenges coaching United and it was significant that he referenced the "unity" on display in Sunday's win.
He said the result was "the best reply that they could give to some articles last week that there was some disruption in the locker room."
The Champions League might also be Rangnick’s only chance, albeit difficult, to win a trophy this season. But a sign of the 63-year-old’s top-level coaching inexperience is that the game at Atletico is the first time he's managed a team in the Champions League knockout phase since his Schalke side was beaten in the semifinals in 2011 – by Alex Ferguson's United.
Atletico is led by the longest-serving coach remaining in this season's Champions League. But fresh from marking a decade in charge in December, Atletico is enduring one of its most turbulent moments under Diego Simeone. The team is inconsistent – much like United – and Simeone is feeling the heat.
There was an encouraging 3-0 win at Osasuna in the Spanish league but Atletico had lost four of its last six games in all competitions before Saturday, including eliminations from the Spanish Super Cup and the Copa del Rey.
Like United in England, Atletico is currently chasing the fourth and final Champions League qualification place in Spain.
Simeone is likely to face Man United without Daniel Wass and Matheus Cunha because of injuries, while Thomas Lemar remained in isolation with the coronavirus.
Wednesday's other game brings together former champions Benfica and Ajax in Lisbon where impressive tournament debutant Sebastien Haller seeks more goals after already netting 10 in Ajax' perfect group stage with six wins.
"Ten goals is OK. I would have declared you crazy if you had told me beforehand that I could score so many goals," Haller told the club website.
"It is a fantastic number. But, it is also the result of the chances I am getting, thanks to the good game of the team. I could have even scored more goals."
The Dutch leaders are as dominant domestically, winning the last seven matches to establish a five-point lead at the top of the Eredivisie.
Benfica, on the other hand, reached the last 16 by helping to eliminate Barcelona with a win and draw against the five-time European champions. But, its confidence isn't so high now after winning only twice in five games in all competitions.
The latest setback was a 2-2 draw at relegation-threatened Boavista in the Portuguese league after leading 2-0 until the 74th minute.
The result was another blow for the Portuguese powerhouse that is only third in the league standings, behind rivals Sporting Lisbon and leader Porto.
It's a slump overseen by Nelson Verissimo, the "B" team coach who took over after Jorge Jesus was fired at the end of last year despite the results against Barcelona.