How Ernesto Valverde helped Barcelona take advantage of an error-prone Man United side

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Individual errors and some quite simply brilliant play from Lionel Messi ended Manchester United‘s Champions League dreams as Barcelona enjoyed a convincing 3-0 win at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night.

Messi got the breakthrough in the 16th minute to put his side firmly in the driving seat of the quarter-final second leg before a howler from David De Gea handed him a second four minutes later.

Philippe Coutinho’s effort from range on the hour mark sealed progress to the semi-finals for the Catalans with a 4-0 aggregate score.

Here, we analyse Ernesto Valverde’s tactical input.

BASIC STATS

Goals – 3

Shots – 13

Shots on target – 6

Goals conceded – 0

Possession – 66%

Dribbles – 14

Tackles – 16

TACTICAL TALKING POINT

Busquets role

With Messi in the form that he was in on the night, it’s only natural that he would take all the plaudits. Whatever spotlight remains would undoubtedly be fixated on United’s glaring individual errors and general lack of quality. Spare a thought for Sergio Busquets though who almost single-handedly got Barca to settle down after a shaky start.

The experienced holding midfielder was made to sit a lot deeper after United’s early pressing and threat in the transition. He did that expertly, slotting in between the two centre-backs and helping Barca play their way out of danger. As the game wore on, that became a position of strength for the hosts. The Spaniard was critical to their build-up play, often leaving United’s forwards chasing shadows.

GOT RIGHT

Targeting United’s right side

As Barcelona increasingly gained control of the game, they started to target the right side of United’s defence, a ploy that was particularly noticeable after half-time. Especially after winning possession, their immediate passes were directed at finding either Coutinho or Jordi Alba. The duo threatened on a couple of occasions before linking up for Barca’s third.

VERDICT

Valverde did what has come to be expected of him. His 4-4-2 system is tailor-made for Messi to run the show and run the show he did. The tactician must be credited for the subtle tweaks he is known to make during games which help his side along their way. Has to be said that he benefited hugely from United’s own errors though, ultimately making things rather simple for him.

Rating 7/10

Most popular

Analysis of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Man United tactics after 3-0 defeat to Barcelona

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Individual errors and some quite simply brilliant play from Lionel Messi ended Manchester United‘s Champions League dreams as Barcelona enjoyed a convincing 3-0 win at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night.

Messi got the breakthrough in the 16th minute to put his side firmly in the driving seat of the quarter-final second leg before a howler from David De Gea handed him a second four minutes later.

Philippe Coutinho’s effort from range on the hour mark sealed progress to the semi-finals for the Catalans with a 4-0 aggregate score.

Here, we analyse Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactical input.

BASIC STATS

Goals – 0

Shots – 9

Shots on target – 3

Goals conceded – 3

Possession – 34%

Dribbles – 4

Tackles – 17

TACTICAL TALKING POINT

Diamond system

United needed to maintain a compact shape away to Barcelona but they also had to pose a threat in attack. Solskjaer had the right idea when he adopted a 4-4-2 diamond system and for the opening 10 minutes or so, Barcelona were second best.

The Catalans struggled to cope with the pace of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial up front while Scott McTominay and Fred had started well, giving United’s midfield plenty of mobility.

After Messi took control – aided by a self-destructive streak from United – Barca settled nicely and began to stretch the away side at will, exposing the narrow back-line.

GOT RIGHT

Changes

Apart from his initial set-up, Solskjaer made the right call when he changed it entirely early in the second half after Coutinho’s strike put the game firmly beyond United’s reach. He went into damage-limitation mode, switching to a back five and under the circumstances, it was perfectly understandable.

The Norwegian didn’t get carried away by ludicrous hopes of a miraculous four-goal recovery. Even Sir Alex Ferguson was guilty of such misguided thoughts in the past. On one occasion it led to a 6-1 thumping in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford. Solskjaer at least spared United’s fans further humiliation.

GOT WRONG

Team selection

There was little wrong with Solskjaer’s set-up but perhaps he put a little too much faith in a couple of players, failing to appreciate their limitations. Ashley Young shouldn’t be a United player anymore, let alone starting the Champions League quarter-final away to Barcelona at left-back while sporting the captain’s armband. Diogo Dalot may have been a better option with Luke Shaw suspended.

But that still leaves Victor Lindelof playing at right-back. So there’s not too much for Solskjaer to work with. Four of United’s back five started in Basel when they were knocked out of the group stages in 2011. Eight years on, it’s farcical that the defensive personnel hasn’t been significantly improved. That speaks volumes of the task the United boss has on his hands.

VERDICT

It’s hard to point fingers at Solskjaer, even after such a resounding defeat. You can’t fault the system he went with although there were one or two question marks over his team selection. Individual errors ultimately cost United. What else could Solskjaer have done? Have better players, maybe?

Rating 5/10

Most popular

Juventus v Ajax player ratings as Donny van de Beek stars with a nine, Cristiano Ronaldo gets a 6

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Ajax stunned Juventus to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League with a 2-1 comeback win in Turin.

Cristiano Ronaldo gave Juventus the lead after 28 minutes with a record 126th goal in the competition, his ninth in seven meetings against Ajax.

But goals from Donny Van De Beek and Matthijs De Ligt gave Ajax a thoroughly deserved 3-2 aggregate success.

AJAX

Onana 6: Not much he could have done to prevent Ronaldo’s perfect header. Not tested as much otherwise.

Veltman 7: Had to deal with the threat of both Alex Sandro and Ronaldo. Was pushed to the ground by De Ligt during Ronaldo’s goal, but he should have positioned himself better in the first place.

De Ligt 8: Solid game in defence and scorer of the winner. Was partly at fault for Ronaldo’s goal though, pushing Veltman to the floor.

Blind 6: Didn’t really put a foot wrong, but wasn’t as impressive as the other other defenders on the night.

Mazraoui N/A: Was taken off after 10 minutes due to an injury.

Van de Beek 9: Scored the opener and was a constant threat, probably the best player on the pitch.

Schone 8: Perfect corner for De Ligt to head home the winner, maintained tempo in midfield.

De Jong 7: Far from his heroic performance in the first leg. Did enough to get the job done, though.

Ziyech 8: Always a threat on the break, set up Van de Beek with what was a shot. But does it really matter? Also, he had a goal ruled out as he was marginally off-side.

Tadic 6: Out-performed by his team-mates up-front, some of his link-up play was impressive in patches though.

Neres 6: Promising runs and a constant threat, but also guilty of poor decision-making and a lack of end product.

Substitutes

Sinkgraven 7: Was tasked to fill in at left-back and did well to keep wonder-kid Moise Kean out of the equation.

Magallan N/A: Was only on the pitch for eight minutes, replacing first-half substitute Sinkgraven.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar N/A: Took the field for the last two minutes or so.

JUVENTUS

Szczesny 7: Two brilliant saves to keep Juventus in the tie until De Ligt headed home.

De Sciglio 4: Didn’t get the memo about the offside trap for Ajax’s first goal, clearly a game-changing moment.

Bonucci 5: Was played around with by Ajax’s attack. Probably should have conceded three more if not for poor conversion by the away side.

Rugani 5: Looked lost at times, especially against an advancing Van de Beek.

Alex Sandro 6: Provided some threat in attack and allowed Ronaldo some freedom, nothing exceptional though.

Emre Can 6: An average game by the German, started attacks well but was insipid in the final third.

Pjanic 7: Best player for the hosts, did everything he could in midfield to keep the tie alive and even produced a crucial block to prevent a third goal.

Matuidi 5: Bursts of productive runs followed by large spells during which he just went missing.

Bernardeschi 4: Looked lost throughout the game and failed to provide Ronaldo much support like he usually does.

Dybala 5: Looked out of touch and was subbed off at half-time due to an injury.

Ronaldo 6: Opened the scoring, but failed to provide anything else, one of those off-nights for the Portuguese.

Substitutes

Kean 5: Not one of those glorious nights for the youngster. Failed to trouble Onana in goal.

Cancelo 6: Provided some threat in the last 30 minutes after he came on, should have started.

Bentancur N/A: Took the field for the last 10 minutes, barely involved.

Most popular

Related Tags