REAL MADRID versus Manchester United was a game that very much lived up to expectations and we cannot argue, the men from Manchester should be the happier of the two sides. We needed to trust the men doing the job out there and those men would need to turn up and put in a shift. That is exactly what happened, everyone turned up. Some may have wobbled occasionally but we can be proud of our team.
Some amongst the United following continue to question Sir Alex’s continued faith in Danny Welbeck, against Madrid he went a long way to proving that his place in the team is the product of quality and not, as some have mused, due to Danny’s possession of compromising pictures of the manager.
Madrid didn’t know what to do with him at times; he scored the away goal but was lively all night. At one point he ran like Forrest Gump, seemingly the length of the pitch, to chase down the ball and fight for a corner; an impressive performance from the lad could have been even better with a bit of luck; with the score level, Shinji Kagawa found Robin van Persie out wide and the Dutchman crossed, Welbeck stretched to make contact with his left foot, the ball ran across the net and out of play for a corner.
United started slowly and Madrid had a lot of the ball in the first half, perhaps the goal came against the run of play but at at times in the second half Welbeck ran the front line with Robin Van Persie and looked to cause Madrid some problems. Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Arbeloa had a moment of confusion and Shinji Kagawa ran to keep the pressure on, the ball found Van Persie who then crossed for Welbeck, Welbeck didn’t connect but Rooney’s cross from the other wing lead to a save from the Madrid ‘keeper and Van Persie forcing a corner.
United could have and maybe should have won the game on the night, had one of the efforts from Robin Van Persie seen the back of the net we would have. There was a right foot bullet and a left foot miss hit that Alonso happily saw away from danger. In the final minutes Van Persie chested down a magnificent Phil Jones pass and sent a left foot shot across the keeper and out of play.
It’s a nice thing to be able to write about chances but we were in the game thanks to those further back as well.
David de Gea deserves a lot of praise for his display, back in Spain back in Madrid, the boy made some crucial stops and near as damn it world class ones; the early one from Fabio Coentrao wasn’t even credited to the ‘keeper on television until Gary Neville pointed it out. More than a few questions were asked of David and he had answers for most of them except, understandably, Ronaldo’s headed equaliser. David denied Mesut Ozil from Xabi Alonso’s pass and impressively with his feet after 78 minutes when Sami Khedira sent a cross in and Coentrao was denied for a second time. Sami Khedira himself had a go, Real kept a knockin’ but David wouldn’t let them in.
He had human moments too, he could do nothing about the Angel Di Maria effort and luckily it went wide. Ronaldo had a free kick too, as Ronaldo is known to do, but David could breath easily once he saw it head over the bar.
United will be wiser in the second leg, Rafael probably has some twisted blood after being turned by Ronaldo and Ozil to name a few but such games build character and while yes, some times the young number two second best and other times he was maybe a little rash in his challenging – he was booked for his attention to Ozil – he stayed on the pitch, he calmed down and he came out of it well.
Michael Carrick was quiet and yet colossal in the middle, he didn’t get many attempts to make the killer pass but when he did he certainly tried, for the most part Carrick tried to keep the ball and slow the pace down. Phil Jones next to him can be happy with his contribution, if we only remember his blocking against Ronaldo, that would be enough.
A lot was made of Rooney’s departure when Pepe came on to the pitch. The press made something of social media comments Wayne had made against him, which allegedly made him a target and therefore certain to be substituted for ‘his own protection’. Let’s take a different spin on this for a second shall we?
Wayne Rooney had a very quiet game, didn’t really impose himself on the stage he was given, was outshone up front by Welbeck, on the wing by Kagawa and gave the ball away. He deserved to be taken off for his display alone never mind any other factors. We should also point out that in a game where United used Valencia, Anderson and Giggs from their bench, Madrid used Modric and Higuain from theirs but the introduction of defender Pepe, arguably shows that United were worrying Real.
In some of the press in the days following the match, I read a lot of analysis in which United were given praise begrudgingly; yes United won but Ronaldo was a shadow of the player he is normally. Excuse us for taking exception to thoughts of that nature – by anyone’s standards Ronaldo had a good game, if he was subdued and the occasion got to him that is no-one else’s fault but his. United played him and the rest of the Real Madrid team and did very well, you can’t blame our excellent performance on the apparently below par contribution of one man. As we have already said, Wayne Rooney was abysmal for us but he was still part of a team that deserves credit for doing the job.
The home leg is going to be interesting.
In a bit – GTS