Manchester United vs PSG Match Analysis: Four things we learned
Manchester United vs PSG Match Analysis: Four things we learned
As Gary Lineker rightly put it “all honeymoons have to end sometime”; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s unbeaten start since arriving at Manchester comes to an end at Old Trafford, a 2-0 loss to Paris Saint Germain. The Red Devils have been rejuvenated since Solskjaer’s arrival, going on a run of eleven (11) matches unbeaten (winning ten in the process) and despite beating the likes of Tottenham and Arsenal in recent matches, many felt that the “New Manchester United” have not been given a proper test. PSG seemed to be the perfect game, the perfect test until recent injuries to Star names like Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier slightly tilted the pendulum in favour of Manchester United.
Although, much of the pre-match talk centered around weighing the effect of these injuries, and Manchester United’s recent form, PSG played their football and seemed to quell the heat from the media.
The first half was evenly contested as United looked to soak in the pressure and attack at pace. The referee brandished five (5) yellow cards in the ratio 2:3 in an opening forty-five (45) that saw rash tackles while each team defended, but played it safe while attacking. The first half ended in a stalemate as none of the teams could find a way past the other. Manchester United’s worries started just before half-time, when Jesse Lingard had to be replaced by Alexis Sanchez after suffering an injury.
It got worse at the start of the second half as Anthony Martial, who suffered a knock in the first-half could not continue and Juan Mata was sent on in his stead.
It took just eight (8) minutes for PSG to break the deadlock in the second half. Presnel Kimpembe was the recepient of a well weighted corner from former United man, Di Maria and the young defender put the ball beyond David De Gea.
Kylian Mbappe who constantly threatened United’s backline with his pace delivered the knockout blow as he raced through the middle of two defenders to get on the end of a Di Maria delivery from the left hand to send into the net.
United never seemed to recover, registering only one shot on target throughout the match.
Things got worse in the 89th minute as Paul Pogba was sent off, receiving a second yellow card for a rash tackle on Dani Alves.
Manchester United vs PSG Match Analysis: 4 things we learned
1) Kylian Mbappe is the future:
Marcus Rashford’s recent form for United resurrected comparisons between the two youngsters. At Old Trafford, one clearly showed that he is probably a step ahead of not just Rashford, but all other young footballers in world football currently.
Just as he always does, he ran like someone who had tyres in place of boots, and constantly looked a threat whenever he had the ball. He capped off his performance with a goal that will be replayed many times in the days to come. Angel Di Maria was on the left, been attended to by Ashley Young, Mbappe dashed from outside and made his way into the box, through the middle of Bailly and Lindelof to slot the ball home for PSG’s second goal. In this match, the world cup winner showed why he is so highly rated.
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2) Ole and United need time before they can compete with the best:
While United played reasonably well in this match, there was always the feeling the PSG was the more composed team. The midfield of Veratti and Marquinhos gradually gained dominance and as time went on, the gulf between the two teams became obvious. Without Neymar, Cavani and Meunier, PSG still looked sharp; United on the other hand struggled to create a notable chance after Lingard and Martial went off injured, although this tragic turn of events was not planned in United’s case, they still seemed to be lacking the class of top teams. Ole needs to be given the time and resources he needs to build a stronger squad if he is eventually given the job on a permanent basis.
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3) Paul Pogba’s talent undoubted, Maturity in question:
Paul Labile Pogba is a precociously talented midfielder, and right from his days in the white and black stripes of Juventus, he has shown prospects of being one of the best midfielders in the world. In the match vs PSG, he started well sending a couple of passes, even embarking on a solo run that deserved a better end product in the first half. He then collected a yellow card in the first half, and as the game began to slip in the second half, he opted to end his game and his team’s chances in the 89th minute, by making a tackle that all but ended United’s night and probably the second leg too. He will be unavailable for the second leg, and the Red Devils must now go to Paris to fight without one of their strongest soldiers.
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4) PSG have grown over the years, a message to Europe:
For the past two years, PSG have exited the UEFA Champions League rather unceremoniously, dashing high hopes and promise in the process. Two years ago, they crashed out to Barcelona in what is probably still the most dramatic event to happen in the history of the competition and last year, a Round of 16 loss to Real Madrid ended their hopes of reaching the latter stages of the competition. While it is to early to say how far they will go, as even the second leg of this encounter has not been played, they look like a better side not necessarily in skill, but in attitude. In Guinluigi Buffon, they have a leader who has experience and the complement Thiago Silva in taking up leadership duties.
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Key Opta stats
- Solskjaer registered his first defeat as Man Utd boss in his 12th game in charge in all competitions (W10 D1 L1), with this Man Utd’s heaviest ever home defeat in any European competition.
- PSG became the first French team to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in any European competition (D4 L10 before tonight).
- Since the start of the 2016/17 season, only Cristiano Ronaldo (16 goals) has scored more goals in Champions League knockout matches than PSG’s Mbappe (7).
- PSG’s Mbappe became the third player to score in his first three away Champions League appearances in England, after Luis Enrique and Edin Dzeko.
- Di Maria registered two assists in a Champions League match for the third time, and the first time since September 2013 (for Real Madrid vs Galatasaray).
- Gianluigi Buffon became the fourth player to appear in the Champions League aged 41 or older (after Marco Ballotta, Mark Schwarzer and Oleksandr Shovkovskiy); he made his debut in the competition before two of the players starting the match were born (Marcus Rashford and Mbappe).
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