Is this Sleeping Giant Awakening?
Apr 01, 2014 11:28 PM EDT
During the Champions League quarterfinal draw just a couple weeks back, it could not have been worse for Manchester United fans. They were paired off with the strongest contenders in the competition. Many people completely wrote them off and predicted this would be a bloodbath. Even with the Red Devils hosting Bayern this evening at Old Trafford, they were clear underdogs against the powerful reining champs.
As a Manchester United fan myself, I have to say I was fearing the worst and hoping to avoid humiliation. In recent weeks United suffered clear defeats to rivals Manchester City and Liverpool, both with a one sided 0-3 score. With Juan Mata cup tied, Evra out for suspension, and both Van Persie and Rafael out with an injury, United were forced to make due with what they had. I myself have been critical of David Moyes all season long. His line up today led me to believe it would be the same poor team we have witnessed all season. However, his tactics were spot on tonight, and for once I commend him for taking risks.
Bayern were not able to capitalize on their dominating ball position, and surprisingly, it was not a very busy night for David de Gea, but he certainly appeared when needed. Many will criticize United for being the home team and playing so defensively. The first half was basically the home side on their half of the pitch, but it should be noted, Manchester United have not been this defensively sound and organized all season. They certainly brought their A game against a very superior team.
Before the match, Moyes stated his team would expose Bayern’s weakness. It seems his plan was to neutralize those wings where Robben and Ribery are by far the most dangerous players. Alex Buttner was exceptional tonight against Robben, as was Phil Jones against Ribbery who was very quite tonight. It was unfortunate to see Buttner come off with an injury, but Phil Jones covered his spot well, and Valencia was able to drop back and cover Ribery. With the exception of a very poor Fellaini, the entire team was outstanding. It was the incorporation of Shinji Kagawa that changed the dynamic of the game. The presence of Kagawa offered a more threatening attack by supporting Rooney and Welbeck up top. The energy in the crowd was fantastic tonight, and it only grew every time United moved forward and would win a corner, which eventually led to a great goal from Nemanja Vidic.
Although United were unable to shut out Bayern and take a win back to the Allianz Arena, the Red Devils have a lot to take from this game. United certainly have attained a great deal of confidence from this match and that will be crucial in their clash next week. Another factor is Bayern will be without Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger due to suspension, however they will have Dante back. On the other hand, United will have Evra, and possibly Rafael and Van Persie fit to play.
The1-1 result tonight still benefits Bayern, and regardless off the score, they remain favorites to go through next week. With that in mind, you cant help but think that United can certainly give them a run for their money, and why not, make this a shock win like they did in the Nou Camp in 1999. It will be a tough game, but tonight’s game served to show United still has a fighting chance, and like Moyes said earlier this week, his side is “ as good as any”.