Manchester United 2-1 Villarreal: Three Things We Learned

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Manchester United have done it! After the opening loss to Young Boys in the dying minutes of the game, now they managed to defeat Villarreal 2-1, with a Cristiano Ronaldo goal which came in the fifth minute of stoppage time. The Red Devils have made a complete turnaround after trailing after the first full hour of the match, but still found their way to snatch all three points and get off the bottom of their Champions League group.

After a tough first-half, it was Paco Alcacer who opened the scoring, getting the assist from the dazzling Danjuma, with just eight minutes into the second period. But then just seven minutes later, Bruno Fernandes’ assist for Alex Telles brought the equaliser. And just when everyone thought this might end in a draw, Cristiano Ronaldo had the final word, scoring for a very important win. Here is what we learned from this exciting match.

Ronaldo Cannot Be Stopped

Obviously, we do not mean that entirely literally, but you get the point. Cristiano Ronaldo had a pretty much quiet game. He was isolated for the most part, Villarreal knew how to stop him by cutting out the supply he would usually get from Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes. This duo was not allowed breathing space when they were in possession and thus it was much harder for them to find Ronaldo. And Villarreal did this job almost ideally, but then, that is not enough to stop Ronaldo. Ultimately, he managed to get scraps in the box in the dying minutes of the game, scoring to make all of Villarreal’s great work – vain. That is something that Ronaldo keeps proving at the age of 36. He does not care if he will not be the centre of attention during the entire 90 minutes. As long as he is the one to score the winner…

Man United Learn Why 4-3-3 Is Not For Them (Yet)

Manchester United tried to play in a more of a 4-3-3 formation this time, rather than a 4-2-3-1. After being criticised for having a double pivot of defensively minded midfielders at Old Trafford, Solskjaer made a change and let Scott McTominay be the sole defensive midfielder, with Pogba and Bruno making the partnership in more advanced midfield roles. But that did not work as it should. Bruno was not in his favourite role and he was further from the box, while McTominay had huge amounts of space to cover. So why is that? Because teams that usually play 4-3-3 have a much better system and movements across the entire team on the pitch, depending on where the ball is on the pitch. Here, that was not the case. The roles of the players are not as trained as they should be for such a demanding system and also, it does not strike us that McTominay has the tactical and technical capacity to be a lone pivot…

Danjuma Makes Dalot Suffer

And finally, there was the duel between Arnaut Danjuma and Diogo Dalot which showed us why the Portuguese full-back is the second choice at right-back, behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Dalot seriously struggled throughout his time on the pitch, being unable to stop a dazzling Danjuma. Villarreal winger shined, showing all of Dalot’s defensive vulnerabilities and even getting the assist for the opening goal. Dalot will probably want to forget this match… Unless he is eager to learn plenty from it.

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