When Renan Lodi grabbed the goal that sent Atletico Madrid to the Champions League quarter-finals and Manchester United to the tournament table, he produced a remarkable turnaround for the Brazilian.
Two months ago, Lodi was relegated to the Atletico bench after falling out of favor with coach Diego Simeone, while on the international stage he was ruled out by Brazilian boss Tite as he was not not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. On Tuesday at Old Trafford it seemed like a distant past as the 23-year-old defender, who had been operating as a winger through injuries and suspensions, headed home in the 41st minute to become the unlikely hero by beating United 1-0 at advance.
Lodi had already produced a man of the match performance in the first leg in Spain, which ended 1-1, assisting Joao Felix for Atletico’s goal and creating all sorts of problems for United’s defence. It was Lodi’s redemption and he broke down in tears when the Metropolitano Stadium crowd gave him a standing ovation as he was substituted late in the second half.
In the next match, he kept his momentum going with a brace against Celta Vigo in La Liga. “Lodi is a hardworking and humble player who deserves all the praise and support,” Simeone told reporters after the 2-0 home win against Celta.
The left-back now looks quite a starter on the left wing, ahead of Belgian Yannick Carrasco, who was serving a three-match ban after being sent off in their group stage clash against Porto in December. “I’m really happy with the opportunity the coach gave me to play out of position,” Lodi said.
“I’m a left-back, that’s what I do best, but if I’m needed in attack like the last two games, I’ll do my best to contribute. I’m delighted to have finally had the chance to show what I am worth.” Lodi arrived at Atletico as one of Brazil’s most promising young players in the summer of 2019 for 20 million euros ($22 million) from Brazilian club Athletico Paranaense. He became an immediate starter for both Atletico and the national team.
Since the end of last season, however, he has fallen down the pecking order for club and country, enduring months of struggles before returning to his best form when his club needed him most. ($1 = 0.9124 euros)
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