10-men Manchester United lose their opening Champions League tie after a shock late winner from Young Boys.
How did Manchester United Set Up?
The excitement from the weekend continued to bubble into tonight’s fixture. Cristiano Ronaldo’s brace at the weekend meant that he was almost a shoo-in to be involved from the start.
While there was excitement for Ronaldo’s second Champions League debut at the club the anticipation for Donny van de Beek’s long-awaited start arguably eclipsed that. The Dutchman’s inclusion alongside Fred and Lindelof were the changes. Paul Pogba moved to his famous inside left role replacing Greenwood while Van de Beek took up the Frenchman’s position in Midfield. Fred replaced Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof came in for Raphael Varane.
The team:Embed from Getty Images
David de Gea (GK), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB), Victor Lindelof (CB), Harry Maguire (CB), Luke Shaw (LB); Fred(DM), Donny van de Beek (CM), Bruno Fernandes (AM); Jadon Sancho (RW), Paul Pogba (LM); Cristiano Ronaldo (ST)
Young Boys vs Manchester United: How It Went Down
United started the game strongly. The Bern side were obviously buoyed by the Reds’ arrival and so immediately took the game to United. However, the Solskjaer’s men weathered the early storm.
It took Ronaldo 45 minutes to get his first vs Newcastle, but tonight it took him 13 to get on the scoresheet. A beautiful trivela from Fernandes on the left-hand side sliced through the yellow and black defence and was well met by Ronaldo. Ronaldo‘s goal extraordinarily made him the player with the biggest gap between his Champions League goals, a record he also racked up on the weekend in the Premier League.Embed from Getty Images
It seemed like it was going to be a long night for Young Boys, but barring some cute interplay United failed to muster any further clear cut chances. The odds against United rose as Aaron Wan-Bissaka recklessly lunged into a challenge on Cristopher Martins and was shown an immediate red. That single red would prove a huge problem for Solskjaer and his coaching staff.
Sancho was hooked off as a result and Dalot was brought on to provide defensive stability on the right-hand side. However, the 10 minutes that followed Wan Bissaka’s dismissal up until the second half was a prelude for things to come…
United emerged for the second half with different personnel and a different formation as Van de Beek was withdrawn for Raphael Varane so the system could switch to three at the back. An obvious move due to Dalot’s defensive deficiencies. In theory, he would have been able to play to his strengths as a wing-back. In reality, the system shake-up led to a shut-up shop performance.
When sitting back it’s of utmost importance that it pays off with no further goals conceded, otherwise it seems like a lost opportunity to not attack the game. That’s exactly what happened to United in the second half. 45 minutes of lost opportunity.Embed from Getty Images
United stood strong for 20 minutes before shipping the first goal which struck as a result of poor defensive shape. United continued to dig in deep but ultimately a lack of focus cost the Reds in the dying moments as Lingard’s thoughtless backpass set seamlessly set up Theoson Siebatcheu for Young Boys’ winner.
Final Score: 2-1
GOALS: Cristiano Ronaldo, Moumi Ngamaleu, Theoson Siebatcheu
Ultimately a loss on the opening day of the Champions League, while not ideal, is far from disastrous. What may be of some concern is the manner. The mentality from coach and players alike to accept their fate and invite pressure is not what United fans want to see. After all the expected generic “we’ll bounce back” social media posts, Solskjaer’s men will be given the opportunity to right their wrongs at the London Stadium vs West Ham.