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5 points analysis: Man United vs Real Madrid

It was the grandest stage. Champions League. Manchester United. Real Madrid. Sir Alex. Jose Mourinho. Christiano Ronaldo back at Old Trafford. Ryan Giggs playing his 1000th professional match. The score at 1-1. Jose Mourinho said ?The world is waiting to watch this match.? The United supporters were going crazy with their preparations at the ground. [...]

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It was the grandest stage. Champions League. Manchester United. Real Madrid. Sir Alex. Jose Mourinho. Cristiano Ronaldo back at Old Trafford. Ryan Giggs playing his 1000th professional match. The score at 1-1.

Jose Mourinho said, “The world is waiting to watch this match.” The United supporters were going crazy with their preparations at the ground. They had paid for 18,000 red, white and black flags to form a bar scarf mosaic which would greet the players as they emerged from the tunnel. The Media had not held back either. Speculations, predictions, previews, analysis, tactics and form. No one could wait for it to start.

I forget to introduce another key star in this movie. Mr. Cuneyt Cakir. We’ll get to his contribution later in the game.

Here are the talking points:

1) Wayne Rooney does not start the match:

Colleen Rooney (Wayne’s wife) tweeted just before the match kicked off – “Can’t believe @Wayne Rooney is not starting.” The fans were perplexed. The media was bound to go into overdrive. This was easily the biggest match of the season. Rooney is the second highest goal scorer in United’s history and has already scored 14 goals this season being out of form. Why would he be dropped? The answer was fairly simple – Tactics.

Rooney was left out in favor of Danny Welbeck. Welbeck is a superb prospect for both United and England and he made his case stronger. He was given the task to cover Alonso, and he followed the plan to the T. Alonso was effectively nullified, and Welbeck’s pace and his little runs were creating problems for the Madridistas.

Sir Alex won the first round of the battle. Weapon – Tactics.

2) The atmosphere at Old Trafford:

Old Trafford is one of the biggest stadiums in Europe. United fans are not known to be the most vociferous and intimidating like the Scousers (who incidentally have to nothing to cheer about, but yes in their glory days). However, they had prepared for this. The mosaics at all stands, the cheering, the songs, the booing, it was all there. Every Madrid touch of the ball was booed, the United player cheered on, at the simplest of passes. The atmosphere was brilliant. The players were there. Two great managers were trying to outdo each other tactically. The old fox was winning at half time. The score 0-0. United had the better of the chances, and went into the break with a lot of energy, and confidence.

One more battle won for the home side. Weapon – Home Fans.

3) United score through an own goal:

In all the melee, United managed to get a goal advantage thanks to Madrid. The ball was played in through a cross, and was awkwardly deflected into his own net by Sergio Ramos. United were looking more confident, and were playing the game with much more purpose, and had begun to get the ball more often than Madrid. If the initial gameplan was to sit back and counter attack, it had worked beautifully. The likes of Nani, Welbeck and RvP were creating problems. Everything was going well.

And another battle won. Weapon – Tactics played well.

4) The Turkish skirmish – Cakir:

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Nani went for a high ball with his foot raised high and made contact with Arbeloa. Yes, the foot was high. But both players only had their eyes on the ball. There was no malice, no intent, and it was definitely not reckless, primarily because Nani had not even seen Arbeloa. Both players went to the ground to receive treatment post the challenge.

Nani was going to receive harsher treatment. A straight Red card. Cakir wanted a piece of the action and put himself in the spotlight on the greatest day for the players, managers and fans of both the clubs. Sir Alex was furious, and the fans devastated. The crowd was stunned into silence. In all their years, Manchester United had never seen something like this. The fans did not know how to react. The players were distraught. The manager was heart-broken to say the least.

United falter. Or did they? Weapon – Cakir.

5) Introduction of Modric – Brilliant card by Jose Mourinho:

Sir Alex was left clueless. Jose was not. He quickly reacted to inflict maximum damage, on his now weakened opponents. Luka Modric, had had very less impact since his big money move from Spurs. His introduction instead of the leftback – who was not needed since there was no Nani – was a masterful tactic. Modric came on and within a span of 12 minutes, Real Madrid had scored 2 away goals to take the tie away from United. The Red Devils needed atleast 2 goals with a man down to progress. Fate. Sealed. Thank. You. Cakir.

Real Madrid Win. Weapon – Jose through Modric.

What was supposed to be a spectacle, was marred in controversy. Neither did the players triumph, nor did the managers. The fans were left helpless. Madrid qualified, United knocked out. Clearly, a day to forget.

Published with permission from Venugopal Rohit.

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