Manchester United exit the UEFA Champions League

Manchester United exit the Uefa Champions League
Image Source - Google | Image by dailypost

The line-up

Starting the game with a 5-3-2 formation, United Manager Ole Gunnar Solsjaer started the match with a defensive intent. With Luke Shaw back fit, it meant that he was straight away included in the line-up alongside regulars Victor Lindelof and club captain Harry Maguire, acting as a three man central defenders. Luke Shaw makes his landmark 150 appearances for the Red Devils after joining the club back in 2014 from Southampton.

Alex Telles and Wan Bissaka were the full backs vested with the duty to burst forward with full intent whenever required. The mid-field too was a defensive minded one, with two holding midfielders, namely Matic and McTominay, to dictate the mid-field and provide the much required support and solidity to the back-line. Bruno Fernandes was given the free role in the mid-filed while linking up with the two young, speedy and in form forwards Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford. 

Cavani and Martial missed the match day squad due to minor niggles incurred during the weekend game against West Ham while Fred missed out due te the red card which he conceded during the game against PSG. Van de Beek, Pogba, Daniel James, Juan Mata, etc. were some of the options for the United Manager to be used in the latter stages of the match.

Game Snippets

First half

United either needed a win or to at least a draw the match to secure a qualification on to the next round of the esteemed Uefa Champions League round of 16.

Even with a back five, Manchester United Started the game very poorly. Leaving the defence wide and very open and therefore allowing the speedy full backs of Liepzig to create problems. 

Leipzig had most of the possesion since kickoff and were allowed to build gradually down the right and then a send over a cross. Angelino ran on to it at the far side of the box under absolutely no pressure and walloped a terrific low shot into the far corner.

Greenwood missed a decent chance by not able to finish it in the either side of the goalpost but giving it straight into the hands of the oppositions goalkeeper’s hands. Greenwood could have squared the ball to incoming Marcus Rashford, but rather decided to go for it himself and thereby missing the chance of taking one back and making it game even.

On the 13th minute once again united have been left flummoxed by Leipzig’s movement. This time Angelino clipped over a cross from the right and Haidara was free to run on to it and rasp a fierce shot into the net. It was remarkable how often Leipzig managed to find a free player every now and then in the opposition’s box.

Even after conceding two goals, United were still very sloppy at the back while allowing the oppositions to cut in from the full back position or while playing through the middle.

Overall the first half was a disaster for United, especially defensively while creating very little in attack as well and hence Ole needed a Plan B, to turn the game around and to proceed to the next round.

Second Half

Ole Gunnar Solsjaer took a mandatory step by replacing Alex Telles with Donny Van De beek, It meant that it was a traditional back four for United with Luke Shaw now playing as a traditional left back. Donny Van De Beek meanwhile went straight into the mid-field to create some magic. The formation now was changed to a 4-4-2. 

United were a different team starting the second half with more determined game play and runs as with and looking more comfortable with the back four and composed with a mid-field four.

Rashford had won a free kick when Nkuku had fouled him neat the touchline, A Bruno Fernandes free-kick was fizzed in and went through the whole lot of defenders and nearly reaching Maguire who nearly missed in heading the ball into the net.

A very smooth play in between the mid-filed let Bruno Fernandes to lash in a shot from the outside of the box for the opposition goalkeeper to save it in the near post. Just a few minutes later, Bruno Fernandes hit the bar from a free kick just outside the 6 yard box. 

In the 60th minute of the game Ole made some desperate changes, swapping Pogba with Shaw and Brandon Williams for Matic.

Dithering in the United defence was punished by Kluivert, while Maguire and De Gea wondered who would deal with a ball rolling across the six-yard area, Kluivert nipped in and beat the keeper with an artful dink. It was 3-0 to United and the game looked over already. 

After conceding the third goal, some senses hit the United players and out of immediate desperation, their play started to kick in. A desperate attempt to get back into the game, after a smooth pass ending up with Greenwood and Konaté shoulder-to-shoulder in the box, and Greenwood went down. The referee straight away pointed to the spot and game United a penalty.

With his usual hop, skip and a jump, Fernandes sends the keeper the wrong way and slots into the far corner. Many thought of it as a start to an unbelievable. 

Instantly, the United Manager made more desperate changes, bringing on Tuanzebe for Lindelof and Fosu-Mensah for Wan-Bissaka for seeing out the dying moments of the match and provide the much required fresh legs.

At the 83rd Minute, Pogba leaped and soared at the back post to meet a corner by Fernandes and his downward header struck Maguire on the way into the net. Leipzig insisted that it hit his harm, but the VAR review declares otherwise. That comeback was on.

Even after much anticipation and hard work in the dying moments of the game, United’s biggest mistakes were already made in the starting moments of the game, which unfortunately could not be overturned even after two late goals in the match. At the end, United lost the game, which went Leipzig and PSG went through to the next round of the Champions League and United moving onto the Europa League.

Written by Arnab Chanda

A 6’, aspiring Advocate, Arnab Chanda, hails from the plains of Assam, currently a 4 th year B.A.
L.L.B student at Sharda University. Being a fanatic Manchester United fan, foodie and a car
enthusiast, his leisure time mostly revolves around trying out new dishes, playing football and
reviewing cars, though he also enjoys to travel and to explore new places. He is a very hard-
working, punctual and sincere person who likes to give his best in everything that he does, but
does not miss a chance to use his humour to light up the mood of his surroundings and to
spread positivity. He’s a momma’s boy who soulfully respects his elders and wants to serve the
society for its welfare.

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