Manchester United drew 0-0 in Spain on Wednesday in the Champions League match against Sevilla. The goalless draw offered a lot of things Jose Mourinho should think about before this coming weekend. Manchester United will host Chelsea on Sunday in the aftermath of their great performance against Barcelona.
The two teams will enter the match in quite opposite moods. Man United did not play to their expectations against Sevilla, after David De Gea was the biggest reason why United left Spain with a clean sheet. The Devils conceded incredible 26 shots, eight of which were on target and they will need to perform much better if they are to beat the Blues.
Chelsea v Barcelona
What can we learn from this match? Chelsea showed how tactically aware and flexible they are. Antonio Conte opted for a 3-4-2-1 formation with Eden Hazard playing as the false nine. The idea was to allow Barcelona all the possession they needed, but in the controlled areas where they would not be able to hurt the English side. It was expected from Hazard and Willian to be main outlets in Chelsea’s counter-attacks, offering pure speed to break Barca’s high line.
Chelsea stifled Barca in central areas of the pitch, denying them space to operate through the middle. That meant Ernesto Valverde’s players were always pushed towards the flanks, where they are the weakest. Conte proved once again how good of a tactician he is. Last season he did similar things to the Premier League elite, winning the title in his first season in England. There are lessons to be learned from all of this, as Conte seems to be doing things Mourinho was famous for years ago.
Sevilla v Manchester United
On the other hand, Manchester United were far from the standard of play their fans like seeing. In the end, the Devils did get a decent result. They have to win at Old Trafford and are not in a need of chasing some bigger result. However, the way they got to this goalless draw was appalling.
David De Gea proved once again how important he is for the team, as United showed their defending is quite fragile for a team that nominally has the best defence in Premier League. The Devils maybe conceded just 19 goals in the league, but the numbers of shots and chances they allow their opponents is not good. There seems to be a poor structure in the way United both defend and attack, as they are mostly reliant on individuals – De Gea in goal and attacking quality of their forwards.
That was obvious once again against Sevilla and against Chelsea they will need to improve things. Chelsea showed how tactically acute they are and they will find ways to break this meek defence of United’s. While not is everything is so negative about United, the obvious mistakes keep happening for months now. That shows that there are not many improvements in style of displays.
Against Chelsea, United will need to show more resilience and better team structure in every aspect of the game. It is time for the Devils to show De Gea does not necessarily need to be the best player on the pitch. Romelu Lukaku, for once, could put an end to his poor displays against Big 6 sides.