Manchester United 2-1 Juventus: 5 Talking Points & Analysis
Manchester United embarked a dramatic turnaround at Turin to score two goals within four minutes and register a victory in a close tie against Max Allegri’s Juventus. The Italian side had been leading United by one goal, which was scored by their summer recruit Cristiano Ronaldo in the 65th minute.
United kept on pushing and were quite dominant in the final ten minutes of the game. Paul Pogba earned a free kick which was sumptuously converted by Juan Mata. Then, Ashley Young’s free-kick from the left flank created a chaos inside the box and the combination of Chris Smalling and Pogba helped in guiding the ball in.
The second goal was accordingly deemed as an own goal by Alex Sandro but United managed to hold on to this slight lead in the final five minutes where they could have notched the third one as Marcus Rashford failed to finish off a very easy chance in a 1v1 situation.
Here, we discuss the game in details as United completed a trademark comeback to instigate one of their greatest European nights in years.
#5 Jose Mourinho sets up to press high and counter with pace
There is a common conjecture that Manchester United are more fluid and mobile in attack when Romelu Lukaku isn’t present on the pitch. Well, Mourinho’s team had already paid the price for giving way too much respect to their opposition at Old Trafford a couple of weeks ago. So, it would have been quite predictable if the manager yet again set his team up to play in the same pattern.
There was an obvious change in approach and it began with the selection of players in the forward line. Anthony Martial was a sure starter due to his goal-scoring exploits in the recent past. However, by choosing Jesse Lingard and Ander Herrera in the attack and midfield, the plan was apparent to squeeze them out of possession high up the pitch.
In the last leg, Miralem Pjanic was afforded with too much time on the ball and the midfielder did well by spraying passes out wide and ensuring that their side were on the attacking front for the majority of the time.
As Mourinho had said after the AFC Bournemouth game, “We are not in control when we don’t have the ball”; United made sure that they recovered the possession and did not let their midfielders dominate the proceedings in this process.
Herrera tackled twice, cleared the ball thrice and blocked it once as he brought more stability in an oft-imbalanced midfield. As has been the case earlier too, Nemanja Matic seemed more comfortable playing along with the Spaniard whose defensive nous and energy let Matic focus shielding mainly the central defensive area.
Lingard put pressure on Alex Sandro and reduced the Brazilian’s overall impact to a significant extent. So, United precisely closed down spaces and blocked the passing lanes, thus recovering the ball and shifting it to wider areas and attack move ahead with pace.