Analysis by Vadim Lukomsky.
Manchester United and Barcelona drew 2-2 in the first leg of the Europa League playoffs. The starting plans of the teams included special moves to neutralize opponents. Because of this, none of the teams had full control, but in the second half the game nevertheless opened up.
Given the style of the teams and the venue, the match had two potential scenarios. The first is Manchester United’s attempt to fight for the initiative and even possession (at the level of intentions, this would be expressed in high pressure and short rallies, and then it depends on the effectiveness of these techniques).
The second is an attempt by Manchester United to neutralize the opponent and play on space (a less typical style for Ten Hag, but even this season has already been used). Barça are a more predictable team in terms of style – only the details inside the attacking philosophy change.
The composition and scheme of Manchester United were a good answer to questions. Rashford in the role of a striker under counterattacks and shifting Bruno to the flank with filling the center with personals (it is interesting that Ten Hag entrusted Wegorst with one such role). Explicit choice of the way of the game by the second number. Manchester United did not even try to build the game differently, but in the best segments it was very effective in this way.
Barça had their own adaptations – more local ones. In a classic defensive line combination, Ronald Araujo plays in the center and Jules Kunde on the right. Yesterday it was the other way around. Xavi used a similar move in Clasico to use Araujo to contain Vinicius. Perhaps yesterday the idea was similar: Javi was waiting on the left for Rashford – and wanted to neutralize him with the help of Araujo. In practice, Ronald’s opponent turned out to be Sancho, who was less dangerous in terms of his current form.
Another surprise was the appearance of Marcos Alonso (and not Andreas Christensen in the center of the defense):
In the center of the field, Ten Hag held Barca back with personals. Rather, it turned out, although Gavi was missed
An important pre-match intrigue is the square of Barca (midfielders + Gavi from the left flank) against the center of the Manchester United field. Ten Hag understood the importance of this zone for the opponent – he came up with a special move.
In the central zone, United defended through personal orientations. As a rule, Fred – according to Frankie; Wegorst – according to Kessie; Casemiro – according to Pedri:
Here you can clearly see how in other zones the team is trying to maintain the scheme, and in the center they play personally:
The Dutch coach saw tight marking as an effective way to keep Barça in this zone and reminded her of players who are able to give the right volume. A similar plan with individual flaws would lead to disaster. It is reasonable to expect such volume from Fred and Casemiro.
Intriguing was the choice of the third player, which turned out not to be Bruno, who plays there most often, but Wegorst. On the one hand, Waut is rightly praised as a hard worker and a pressing machine. On the other hand, yesterday an atypical type of work was required of him. Ten Hag felt that Wegorst had the right skills. Wow did not disappoint.
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