Manchester United 3-2 Atalanta: Four Things We Learned

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What a crazy match we have witnessed last night! Manchester United have defeated Atalanta 3-2 in their third Champions League match of the season, but only after they trailed 2-0 at half-time. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side managed to salvage themselves from a very tough position, as it was Mario Pasalic who put Atalanta ahead after just quarter of an hour into the match. Some 15 minutes later, Merih Demiral scored from the set-piece, to make it 2-0 for the visitors and at half-time, things looked rather bleak for the hosts.

However, a big comeback occured as Atalanta were unable to be more pragmatic in their approach. Marcus Rashford scored just eight minutes into the second half, Harry Maguire equalised with 15 minutes to go to make things dramatic, before Cristiano Ronaldo – who else? – scored a header from a beautiful Luke Shaw cross, with 10 minutes to go, to make it 3-2 for Man United. Here is what we learned from this exciting clash.

Man United Struggle With Defensive Organisation

We have seen just how much Man United struggled last weekend with their defensive organisation, when they conceded four goals against Leicester. This time against Atalanta, that was the case once again. Solskjaer’s team had issues with Atalanta’s 3-4-1-2 system right from the start. That was evident when they failed to track back their wing-backs Davide Zappacosta and Joakim Maehle on numerous occasions. That is in fact what allowed Atalanta to score their opener and those simple runs just kept coming and making United uncomfortable. In a 4-2-3-1 system where most of the attackers are not tracking back, that is what happens. United were in the end lucky that not more goals came from Atalanta’s runs from deep. Man United were once again poor off the ball, so poor that at half-time there were many boos coming from the stands…

Rashford Leads The Team Forward

Marcus Rashford has been out of action since the start of the season until just recently and this time he was in the starting spot on the left wing. It seems that Rashford has really enjoyed that late start of his season, as he was the one to lead Man United forward in this match, scoring a nice goal early into the second half, to make Atalanta sweat. He was quick against Atalanta’s defenders, he was moving around nicely and he seemed very confident at all times. It was good to see Rashford in such a mood and hopefully his performances will continue to make United a better team, although it would be nice if United did not always need to rely on individual qualities. That was the case against Atalanta once again, as everything dangerous the Devils have created, has not come from set patterns of play, but rather individual moments.

Man United Top Of The Group, But…

Halfway through the Champions League group stages, Man United are top of the group and in the best position to remain ahead of Villarreal, Atalanta and Young Boys. That seems pretty good, but add some context in and Man United fans cannot be so happy even when their team is leading the group. Against Young Boys, United were shockingly bad and lost the match. Against Villarreal, this team really struggled and only won when Cristiano Ronaldo managed to put the ball into the net after 95 minutes of play. Against Atalanta, they struggled even more, losing 2-0 at half-time and only managing to make a turnaround with the help of Serie A outfit’s inability to close off the match after getting a comfortable lead. Man United have a 6-5 goal difference in this group too and their performances have been just about good enough for top spot, but in the latter stages of the Champions League, they would struggle against tougher opponents…

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