Football Tactics for Beginners- The Sweeper Keeper: From Lev Yashin to Manuel Neuer

Germany’s Manuel Neuer has been widely credited as one of the finest goal-keepers of his generation, and quite rightly too. The Bayern Munich shot-stopper...
Andrew Clayton
Third year Literature student with a passion for 80s music and football

Latest Posts

Man City 3:0 Arsenal Tactical Analysis- The Master vs The Apprentice

When Mikel Arteta was an assistant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, they not only dominated England but were one of the best teams...

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

A look at Nigel Pearson’s tactics at Watford

4/12/2019, Leicester City Stadium. Watford suffers yet another defeat, and the ominous bells of relegation are echoing louder at Vicarage Road. The board had...

Great Squads From History – Bayer Leverkusen 2001-2002

The 2001-02 great Bayer Leverkusen side is infamous for their incredible choke job in the last stretch of the season, losing out on three...

How will Arthur fit in Juventus’s midfield: Sarri’s thrilling 4-3-1-2 formation

Sky Sports News has confirmed that Juventus and Barcelona have agreed upon a £72.5m fee for the signing of midfielder Arthur. The Brazilian midfielder...

The Man of Ten Thousand Voices

A young man graciously welcomes me into a room radiated with TV screens, computers, control panels, and flashing LEDs.  A small group of men...

A Tactical Look at how Marseille qualified for the Champions League

After a 7 year exile from Europe’s elite competition, the club from the south of France has finally restored their Champions League status by...

Football Books

Best Football Analytics Books

We have compiled a list of the best football analytics books for the casual football fan. Football analytics and data science/machine learning in general...

The Best Football Books of 2019

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2020, we have compiled a list of the best...

The Best Football Books of 2018

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2019, we have compiled a list of the best...

5 Books every Soccer fan needs to read before the FIFA World Cup 2018

The FIFA World Cup is just around the corner and it's the perfect time to brush up your history and facts about the World...

Best Soccer Coaching Books

We have compiled a list of the best soccer coaching books which every soccer coach must have in his/her bookshelf. No matter whether you...

Manchester United 0-0 Valencia: Tactical Analysis

IN the 67th minute of Manchester United’s 0-0 Champions League draw with Valencia, David de Gea blasted a goal kick straight into touch, the ball ricocheting near the dug outs. Martin Keown, commentating for BT Sport and ever the one for melodrama, remarked: ‘A cry for help?’ Although a rubbish goal kick doesn’t represent a crisis, signs of discord at Old Trafford were ever present throughout the game: players running into each other; overhit passes; a permanently frustrated Paul Pogba. Tuesday’s European match was yet another knell for Mourinho’s time in Manchester. The shadow which hangs over the Special One, questioning his tactics and his man-management skills, has only grown darker with a disappointing draw.

Team Selection:

United again lined up in Mourinho’s favoured 4-3-3, with De Gea, Antonio Valencia, Bailly, Smalling and Shaw at the back. Matic played in the holding role, with on-field disruptor Fellaini and recent off-field disruptor Pogba playing either side of him. Lukaku started up front with Sanchez on the right wing and Rashford on the left.

Valencia played in a 4-4-2, a formation which appears to be steadily replacing the 4-2-3-1 and flat 4-3-3 in Spanish league football. Marcelino made wholesale changes to the side which beat Real Sociedad away on the 29th, fielding a lopsided, diamond midfield instead of a flat four. Neto started in goal with Piccini, Garay, Gabriel and Gaya at the back. French pivots Frances Coquelin and Geoffrey Kondogbia started alongside playmakers Parejo and Goncalo Guedes in midfield. Belgium’s other striker Michy Batshuayi played up front with Rodrigo.

First Half:

Arguably, this was a chance for either side to reignite their respective forms: Valencia currently reside down in 14th in La Liga, taking five draws in seven games, whilst United hover in 10th in the Premier League. From kick-off, the Red Devils looked promising in the first ten minutes, with Rashford making darting runs inside, but ultimately no final product emerged. Describing Valencia’s defensive strategy as ‘deep-lying’ would almost be a compliment; when United attacked, they could carve through Los Murciélagos’ midfield only to be stumped by a low-block in the final third and watch the ball frantically cleared away.

When Valencia turned the tide and attacked, they fervently worked the left flank, all the play being concentrated on Batshuayi and Guedes. United and Valencia shared a parallel in this; their main creative outlets came from young starlets on the left. Yet, also equally, neither Guedes or Rashford could provide a result: Rashford’s deep crosses were nullified, whilst Guedes single-mindedly cut back early and fired the ball somewhere into the Stretford End all throughout the game.

Eventually, both teams settled in and were comfortable allowing each other to hold the ball, relying on the defenders to block and clear. On only a couple of occasions United looked to press when their tails were up; ultimately, the first forty-five minutes were an indifferent and unrewarding affair.

Second Half:

Anyone who stuck around for the remainder of the game can agree that it matched the torpor of the first half, with both teams poor in possession and unable to sharply attack. United had the lion’s share of chances, yet were only mildly dangerous from set pieces, an 85th minute free kick from Rashford rattling the crossbar. Both sides made minor changes: a lacklustre Alexis Sanchez was replaced by Martial for the last twenty minutes, whilst Soler and Cheryshev came on for Valencia to replicate the flat four that beat Real Sociedad. As the final whistle blew, boos rung out around Old Trafford; the fans’ response to this ongoing soap opera which the great club has seemingly become.

Talking Points: Shape

A more intriguing comparison would be the shifting movement of the Valencia formation, compared to the rigidity of Mourinho’s 4-3-3. Coquelin, more of a pivot at Arsenal, featured as an inside-winger for Valencia, whilst Guedes would cut in and Parejo would typically roam in the centre alongside Kondogbia, the shape resembling something of a diamond, or a rotating square. This would be even more complicated as Batshuayi would drop in to link up the attack, playing one-twos before running at Eric Bailly. Whilst Valencia were fairly dreadful in the final third, their midfield play was fluid and energetic, something Marcelino can take into their weekend game against Barcelona.

By comparison, Manchester United’s midfield was tightly compressed, with Matic as the pivot and Pogba and Fellaini jogging somewhere in front of him. Defensively, all three looked uncomfortable, with Pogba and Matic unsure who to mark whilst Los Murciélagos swapped around in the centre. Fellaini might be effective as a late substitute to cause chaos, but he is clearly not a good enough player to start for Manchester United, particularly considering a past midfield of Scholes, Keane et al. Whilst Pogba was positive in forcing the ball forward, Fellaini was not, and there was a reluctance from both to drive out wide. In contrast, local rivals Manchester City and Liverpool have a plethora of central creators who will dribble towards the wing to forge an opportunity.

Credit: BT Sport.

With yet another draw, and missing yet another win, a great spectre looms over Jose Mourinho. The Special One seems tired and agitated, resembling the bedraggled figure lampooned last year. By the end of last season, however, a little favour and a lot of hard work saw him drag the Red Devils up to second place. Although, as always in football, the focus is on the now and the near future. As United languish in the mid-table of the Premier League, with the striped basilisk of Juventus in coming weeks, we may wonder if Mourinho could even drag this United team out of the doldrums, let alone if he will be given the chance.

- Advertisement -
Andrew Clayton
Third year Literature student with a passion for 80s music and football

Related

How will Ole fit in Bruno & Pogba together: Man United’s thrilling 4-2-3-1 formation

Before the lockdown due to Covid-19, Manchester United were possibly playing their best football for a long time. The arrival of Bruno Fernandes in...

Manchester United’s biggest transfer mistake of last summer

Manchester United's disastrous run under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer starting after their famous victory in Paris can be explained due to a multitude of factors....

Goal Analysis: Manchester United 1: 2 Crystal Palace- van Aanholt (90’+3 minutes)

Manchester United suffered a home defeat to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday after conceding a late Patrick van Aanholt goal. United...

Man United’s predicted lineup against Crystal Palace- Ole to choose to pass over pace

Manchester United face Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday in the English Premier League. United can't afford to drop more points so early...

4 perfect summer transfer targets for Manchester United

Despite United’s excellent run since Solskjaer took over, it is still clear that if Man United want to compete with Liverpool and Man City...

Man United’s thrilling 4-3-3 formation under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has had a dream start to his managerial career at Old Trafford with Manchester United winning 9 out of their 10...

Simplicity The Main Tactical Revolution at Manchester United

“Paul’s one of the best midfielders in the world going forward so you should release him forward.” Those words, spoken by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after...

Where do Manchester United go from here: who next after Jose?

With losses to Brighton, Tottenham, West Ham and points dropped at home to Wolves, Manchester United are well off the place in the Premier...

Latest Posts

Jürgen Klopp Pressing system

Jürgen Klopp is regarded by many as one of the best managers in the world. He started his managerial career with a German Club...

Man City 3:0 Arsenal Tactical Analysis- The Master vs The Apprentice

When Mikel Arteta was an assistant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, they not only dominated England but were one of the best teams...

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

Three best Premier League transfers of all time

The Premier League is famous for its lavish spending on player’s transfers. Top clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United have been spending...

Don't Miss

Dr. Carneiro or: How I should learn not to stop the game and love the boss

Hundreds of journalists this week have condemned Jose Mourinho for his treatment of Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn after they wrongly ran onto the...

FC Start and The Death Match

“Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we must not forget those acts of courage with which men have lived.” – John...

‘The Diamond demolition’ in the Kolkata derby

The year was 1997, and on the 13th of July, the stage was set for the biggest clash in Indian football – the Kolkata...

The Evolution and Political Dynamism of Football in Mussolini’s Italy

On a November night in 1934, the English national football team faced their Italian counterparts, Nazionale di calcio dell'Italia. The match was held at...

Cruyffism through Spain

Spain has developed a unique commitment to technical football which has put them in good stead to make the past decade a period of Spanish dominance. The story to this dominance begin decades before hand when Cruyff decided that Barcelona would be the club he would next manage after his time at Ajax was over. He would create a cohesive identity for the club which kept the vision while finding success. This vision began with a number of manager who came before Cruyff but after Cruyff left, there would be many managers in Spain who would use his methods to discovery their own success.

Transfers

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

Three best Premier League transfers of all time

The Premier League is famous for its lavish spending on player’s transfers. Top clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United have been spending...

Where will Kai Havertz play for Chelsea? A look at Lampard’s exciting 4-2-3-1 formation for next season

There have been several rumours surrounding Kai Havertz's transfer to Chelsea and Havertz's current boss, Peter Bosz has indicated that the winger might not...

Man United expected lineup against Sheffield United: Pogba & Bruno to start together for first time

Manchester United salvaged a draw against Tottenham in their first game post the lockdown. Their performance improved after the substitutions of Paul Pogba and...

How will Arthur fit in Juventus’s midfield: Sarri’s thrilling 4-3-1-2 formation

Sky Sports News has confirmed that Juventus and Barcelona have agreed upon a £72.5m fee for the signing of midfielder Arthur. The Brazilian midfielder...