The Argentine has been impressed by the impact Ralf Rangnick has had at Old Trafford over the past three months

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has insisted that Manchester United are “one of the best teams in the world” right now ahead of their last-16 Champions League tie.

United will arrive at Wanda Metropolitano for the first leg on Wednesday night on the back of a confidence-boosting 4-2 victory at Leeds.

That result saw Ralf Rangnicks side tighten their grip on fourth place in the Premier League, and Simeone is expecting a tough test for his team in front of their own fans.

The Red Devils struggled for consistency in the first half of the season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but Simeone is wary of how far they have come in a short space of time under Rangnick.

“Were facing one of the best teams in the world in the last 14 games, if Im not mistaken,” the Argentine told a pre-match press conference. “Theyve just lost one. With the new manager, Ralf Rangnick, its given the team solidity, teamwork, commitment.

“We can see what Manchester United was always like. Theyve evolved since the new manager arrived, theyre already fourth in the league.

“Its an intense, dynamic team, very brave, with very good forwards, very good footballers overall and who try to make a huge effort to try and unite the huge talents they have in 11 players.

“Its going to be a very difficult game, as every Champions League game is. But we have a lot of anticipation to play in our stadium in front of our fans and were lucky to play the last 16 at home because we couldnt play that, we couldnt do that last year.”

The Red Devils have played a total of 15 games across all competitions under Rangnick to date, posting eight wins, five draws and just two losses.

A 1-0 home defeat to Wolves and a penalty shootout loss to Middlesbrough in the fourth round of the FA Cup are the only black marks on the interim managers record so far, with United now looking a more solid, well-rounded outfit.

Simeone has been impressed by the changes Rangnick has managed to implement, but he will have his own plan ready to try and breach their stubborn rearguard in the Spanish capital.

“The team is much more compact, its stronger,” the Atletico chief added. “They have a solidity at the back, theyre a very physical team with the central defenders and the midfield theyve got.

“They are really strong and its really, really difficult to find vulnerabilities there. I always assess the virtues of our rival, but of course, we will try to find a way to try and hurt them, try and find our way to the goal, if you like.”

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