Down The Wings

Manchester United Fan Blog

5 Things: Manchester United vs PSG Analysis

REUTERS/Phil Noble

Manchester United hosted Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford, in the Champions League, searching for the one remaining point that they need to qualify for the Round of 16. United came into the game on the back of an impressive comeback against Southampton.

The Red Devils made a poor start, with PSG scoring inside 6 minutes, as Neymar capitalised on some slack defending by United to put his side ahead. The drama continued, as after 20 minutes, Fred surely should’ve seen red, after headbutting Parades, however VAR decided on just a yellow card. 10 minutes after that incident, United managed to draw level, as a deflected Marcus Rashford strike beat Keylor Navas.

United were very much in the game at Half-time with the score 1-1, but minutes into the second half, Martial missed a golden opportunity to put United ahead, as he fired over from close range. Edison Cavani chipped the ‘keeper but hit the cross bar with the ball eventually falling for Martial, who again missed when it looked easier to score.

PSG made United pay for these missed chances, as their skipper, Marquinhos, finished from close range. After conceding, United immediately went down to ten-men, as Fred was sent off, after receiving a second yellow card. In stoppage time, Neymar sealed the deal, after a stunning counterattack. A good performance but a game where missed chances really did come back to haunt United.

1. United Rue Missed Chances

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Manchester United missed multiple guilt-edged chances with the score at 1-1 and they really did pay for it in the end. The biggest culprit was Martial, who has yet to prove himself this season. The first chance that Martial misfired was minutes into the second half, when Rashford squared the ball to Martial, who inside the box, one-on-one with the keeper, skied his shot over the crossbar. The next big chance came after an audacious chip by Cavani that beat the ‘keeper but hit the bar. United recycled the ball and Martial had another big chance but his shot was blocked. Two big chances that could’ve changed the course of the game. As it was, PSG went onto take advantage and win the match. But if Martial could’ve scored just one of those big chances that presented themselves for him, then United would’ve gone ahead and could’ve won the match. It was rather toothless than ruthless from United, who need to learn to take chances in big matches.

2. Fred Sees Red

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One of the biggest talking points of the match was United’s Brazilian midfielder’s conduct during the match. It was an almost unbelievable decision by VAR to give Fred just a yellow card after reviewing his headbutt on Parades, but that as the decision made. After narrowly escaping the red card, Fred, was constantly provoked by PSG players, who were trying to get him sent off. At halftime the obvious and correct decision would have been to replace Fred, so that they do not risk him getting a second yellow. However, Solskjaer decided to keep him on and inevitably Fred was involved in a late tackle that resulted in him being shown a second yellow and being sent off. After the match, Solskjaer, himself, even admitted that it was the wrong decision to keep Fred on the pitch.

3. Unfair Result

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Whilst United were made to pay for sloppy defending and poor finishing, the score line flattered PSG, in an incredibly equal match. United have struggled at Old Trafford this season but played well against a good PSG side and were quite unfortunate not to have taken away at least a point from the game. United had most of the chances, including some big ones that could’ve drawn them level. It was a good performance by United so they can take the positive of that out of the game and that they should’ve probably one. The negative that they will take away is that they have lost a game that they really should’ve won because of a lack of a clinical edge in front of goal. Cavani showed his quality against PSG and his predatory instincts against Southampton; is it perhaps time to see the Uruguayan replace Martial permanently?

4. Pressure On Solskjaer

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Whilst United were unlucky to be on the losing side, is there a case to say that the defeat increases the pressure on Solskjaer? I think so. United’s overall performance was good, but their game management was poor, quite what Solskjaer was thinking keeping Fred on the pitch, I do not know. United have thrived in the Champions League so far, with their struggles coming in the league and whilst United had won their last 4 games, a club United’s size needs to be getting out of the group stage and if United do not get anything against Leipzig, I can see the pressure really mounting on Solskjaer. United are settling for mediocrity at the moment, okay they are just finding some form but if Solskjaer cannot get this team qualified and they have to settle for the Europa League, I think that he should be seeing his marching orders.

5. What Next?

Manchester United are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to the London stadium to face West Ham. It will be the first Premier League game, since a limited number of fans were allowed back into stadiums. United’s critical Champions League match versus RB Leipzig takes place on Tuesday 8th December.

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