United stay alive, but only just
“You can’t leave United alive,” Gerard Pique told journalists on the eve of this game but despite enjoying spells of near total control, a below-par Barcelona did just that. Manchester United are still in this tie, just.
That is amazing, given that a lot of the ball fell as low as the 10 percent imprint in the opening stages. Barcelona made as much as possible from their underlying strength, with Luis Suarezguiding an away goal in off Luke Shaw’s arm.
Yet, this quarter-last should, in truth, have been put to bed. Rather, United were permitted to steadily discover their way once more into the game and Barcelona struggled to regain their early fluency.
It might at present not be sufficient. United will even now be unfancied in the Nou Camp one week from now. They have just a thin possibility ofprogression, but as Paris Saint-Germain know too well, that is all they need. need.
Solskjaer adopts safety-first approach again
In the beginning of his appointment, Solskjaer was proclaimed for returning United to assaulting rules that the club gladly connects itself with. But, at each chance to go out and press a kindred world class side, his methodology has constantly been traditionalist and safety-first.
This isn’t really an analysis – Louis van Gaal was surely a little cruel when he depicted Solskjaer’s style as “park the bus” – but there can now be no doubt that against the very best, the United manager sets his side out to play on the back foot.
Thus it was here, with a five-man defence utilized out of ownership, sat profound to ensure against Barcelona’s sharp going in behind, and Marcus Rashford on the half-way line, ready and waiting to break at speed.
Lukaku’s laboured showcase undermines United counters
As a methodology, it restricted Barcelona to only one goal and furnished United with a couple of brief snapshots of guarantee. The one thing undermining it was Romelu Lukaku, who after an ongoing spell of improved form, endured a night to forget partnering Rashford up front.
Many take a gander at the Belgian and see a strong, ungraceful nearness progressively fit to an ethereal style of play. In reasonableness, on his awful days, Lukaku goes unusually absent, as though unfit to adjust himself with the rest of United’s attack.
In any case, this is the equivalent Lukaku whose knowledge and development at Everton earned him a move to Old Trafford; the equivalent Lukaku whose bait running delivered one of the goals of the tournament at the last World Cup.
He is unmistakably ready to play in a team built around breaking at speed however there are evenings when it essentially does not fall off. To what extent before a forward line of Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard turns into the favored alternative?
Suarez’s long European drought goes on
To start with, it was the assistant referee, inaccurately hailing him offside in the wake of folding a header into David de Gea’s net. Then it was Uefa’s equivalent of the dubious goals panel, judging Shaw’s touch on the ball to be decisive and awarding the own goal.
No matter what happens, Luis Suarez would be denied. It would have been his first Champions League goal of the season, his first far from home in this competition for almost four years and one to savour, given the occasion and his history in this country.
Suarez’s long dry spell in Europe is interested for a player of his suffering quality, one who scored the definitive goal in the 2015 last no less, yet Ernesto Valverde won’t be excessively concerned. There were sufficient signs here that it could end soon, not least in the Nou Camp next Tuesday.
McTominay’s star continues to rise
Subsequent to being United’s one splendid spot tragically to Wolverhampton Wanderers a week ago, Scott McTominay proceeded on his gradual ascent towards becoming a useful member of Solskjaer’s first-team squad.
It was in this competition against opposition from Spain – in Seville in the last-16 last season – that he was pushed into the center of a political war between headliner and supervisor. His accreditations as a United first-cooperative person were addressed and tried.
His rise since then has been slow and gradual but since starting the draw against Liverpool in February, and that excellent display in Paris last month, McTominay has not looked back. He is starting to look at home in this team and at this level.