“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves.” A night of epic proportions at old Trafford saw Manchester United lifting their spirits to soak up Bayern’s dominance as they drew 1-1 with their German counterparts. Pep Guardiola’s men came to Manchester as clear favourites and will do so at the half end of the tie, thanks to the away goal they take to the Allianz Arena next week.
Tactical Analysis: Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich
It was surprising to see Micheal Carrick being paired in the middle alongside Ryan Giggs and Marounne Fellaini, while Phil Jones started at right back thanks to Rafael’s injury. Alexander Buttner had the grandest of stages to shine at the left back position thanks to Patrice Evra’s suspension. Wayne Rooney played in the number ten role as I had said in my pre match analysis while Danny Welbeck’s pace was instrumental to Moyes’ plans on the night. For the Bavarians, Javi Martinez was deputed at centre back thanks to Dante’s suspension while Toni Kroos and Phillip Lahm assisted Bastian Schweinsteiger in the midfield. Completing the 4-3-3 setup was the triumvirate of Robben, Ribery and Thomas Muller.
How Manchester United approached the game
United’s lineup was a mix of the old fashioned 4-4-2 British system with the overloading 4-5-1 setup. The home side sat back and their strategy was crystal clear from the first whistle: Get the ball, move it forward as quickly as possible. Catch Bayern off guard and take advantage of the spaces left behind (snap below).
Guardiola, predictably, tried to overload the United midfield through Kroos, Lahm and Schweinsteiger, while in the flanks it was one way traffic thanks to Robben and Ribery. It was bewildering to see Mandzukic on the bench, the Croatian is certainly a better number nine than the German Thomas Muller.
Bayern clearly were the better side as they carved out multiple opportunities. Ribery, while on the ball (below snap), had a plethora of passing options.
Below Snap: Alaba’s run from the deep takes Valencia away and as Lahm drifts in the centre, its suddenly a 3 vs 2 in the middle of the park. Ribery easily switches play to Rafinha, the right back who is in acres of space.
United’s unwillingness to come out of their channels invited more pressure as Robben had a curling effort, getting the ball he shouldn’t have but for Fellaini’s lack of abilities.
Above Snap: The Belgian suddenly moves off and doesn’t narrow the space, giving Robben a free run. However, De Gea made a fantastic save to deny the Dutch as it remained goalless.
United’s best outlet was Welbeck and Valencia, the duo with their burst of pace caused Bayern’s makeshift centre backs Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng, a host of problems.
Above Snap: Rooney plays a delightful one touch pass in the middle, as Welbeck drifts away from Boateng, but inexplicably tries an audacious chip over Neuer, being one on one with the German Goalkeeper. Sheer lack of decision making, showing Welbeck’s profligacy in front of the goal, when a side foot finish was the better option.
Micheal Carrick’s brilliant showing in the middle of the park
Given the circumstances of playing a much superior team, tactically Moyes was back where he is most comfortable. It was meticulous effort and a really well drilled defensive approach from the Scot, reminiscent of his Everton’s days where they hackled the opposition to close down any spaces in front of the opposition. At the heart of this, was Micheal Carrick, the Englishman whose brilliant defensive organization (heat map shown below) helped United carve out a deserved draw and more importantly the Red Devils are still in the tie.
Carrick’s ball retention and his actions areas helped United to build from the back while he screened his back four to perfection.
How United and Bayern scored
Wayne Rooney’s delightful delivery from the corner found out Vidic unmarked, the Serbian jumped to slot home with a twisting leap.
Vidic should have never been given the time and space but unfortunately for the Bavarians, David Alaba is caught dreaming.
This forced Guardiola to bring on Mandzukic who is more adept at playing the number nine role to perfection rather than Muller. The goal arrived for the away side from the right. Bayern’s diagonal balls gave Rafinha time and space at multiple occasions.
The Brazilian picked out Mandzukic to perfection who headed the ball back to the unmarked Schweinsteiger, the German who slotted home from close range. It was more of Fellaini’s (who was ball watching, as the above snap shows) indiscipline rather than United’s collective failure.
Where does this draw lead to
The game was marred by controversy at the end when Rooney appeared to have dived following Schweinsteiger’s challenge, the latter who got his second booking and consequently will miss out in the next week at Allianz Arena. United can be proud of themselves, holding their heads high but Bayern will certainly be favourites to reach the semis.