Wolfsburg vs Manchester United

Pre-Match Analysis:

Champions League. The tournament that shows which side is the world’s best. United must win the game to secure a place in the last 16 of the champions league however, they have many injured players. With only 1 point separating United and Wolfsburg, the game is vital for both sides. As a consequence of United’s previous Champions League match ending as a 0-0 draw, the game against Wolfsburg is a must win match in order to seal their place in the knock out stages.

Manchester United have drawn their previous 3 games. United want nothing other than a win in the clash against Wolfsburg so will need to go all out in the match. United have proved on several occasions this season, just how well they can defend. With goalkeeper David De Gea being on outstanding form, the back line in the United defence could possibly be the strongest position in the team. Young talent Anthony Martial has also proved that he is not always a clinical finisher, so all eyes will be on him to lead our attack as Manchester United will be without their Captain Wayne Rooney due to injury. Key midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is also out in this vital game against Wolfsburg. Can United cope without these key players, or will they fail to produce the needed victory in this anticipated game for a spot in the knockout stages? With Manchester United missing out other key players such as Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones, United will not have an easy game against group leaders, Wolfsburg. United are bringing in young talent to their side for such an important game. The question is, can this drastic change be the start of a new style of United.

De Gea, Romero, Blind, Borthwick-Jackson, Darmian, McNair, Smalling, Varela, Carrick, Fellaini, Goss, Lingard, Mata, Pereira, Powell, Schweinsteiger, Young, Martial, Memphis. Van Gaal has selected a surprising range of players to take to Wolfsburg. With a vast amount of young talent being brought in, things could be changing in Van Gaal’s tactics. German midfielder, Bastian Schweinsteiger says that United lack ‘the killer instinct’ in their attack but still think that his teammates are capable of regularly scoring goals. If there is one thing that United do not lack, it is pace. The attacking players are full of speed, enough to cause problems for any defenders. Memphis and Martial as well as Jesse Lingard are thought to be some of the biggest young talents of their age, so they will need to perform in this important away fixture. Yet again, United are bringing with them the experienced duo of Schweinsteiger and Carrick. The experience these two talented players possess will surely inspire anyone on the pitch playing along side them.

The Champions league game against Wolfsburg is without a doubt, one of the most crucial games so far for the Reds this season. Ideally, United fans across the world want to see a change in our boring football. We want to see goals and attacking football. A win against Wolfsburg will put us through into the last 16 and we will really need to show, what we are capable of.

Line-Up Analysis:

Starting today in this do or die match in goal is unsurprisingly David De Gea, he's been in good form and has rarely been challenged by any oppositions attacking force this season due to our rock solid defence. Starting at Right back for his debut in the champions league is Varela and this is because our main left backs, Rojo and Shaw, are injured which means Darmian, who had a decent game against Leicester, has to fill in that role. Our CB partners are staying the same as they have in the past few games and they have been highly successful. 

There's been a change in the midfield with Carrick being dropped in favour for Fellaini who played the best against West Ham on the weekend. Schweinstieger retains his place and his experience will be needed if we are to win this match, he was taken off last time we played Wolfsburg in the 60 minute. Our attacking force has remained unchanged for the most part of it except Memphis starts and he played a great cameo on the weekend against West Ham.

First Half Analysis:

Wow! I don't know what to say after this eventful first half. We took the lead in the tenth minute with a clinical Anthony Martial finish, which was then cancelled out within minutes by a good finish from Naldo. Then, around the 30th minute, after a very well worked bit or play, Vieirinha managed to score and give Wolfsburg a 2-1 lead. However, it doesn't stop there. In the final minutes of the first half, Jesse Lingard scored but the goal was disallowed by the referee after a very delayed response from the linesman. This was a crazy half!

The game started off very unusually with Wolfsburg controlling most of the possession. After a few minor marking mistakes, we managed to clinch the lead. Juan Mata threaded in a great ball behind the Wolfsburg back line to Anthony Martial. The 20 year old then neatly shot the ball passed the keeper into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. This lad has got very clinical finishing for a 20 year old.

Just as I thought i was dreaming (us scoring a goal in the first 10 minutes), Wolfsburg managed to equalise almost immediately. A free kick came in towards Naldo and he turned his body perfectly to shoot the ball directly into the bottom corner of the goal - there was no chance for David De Gea. Questions have to be asked about Schweinsteiger and Smalling's positioning for the two goals.

After Fellaini had a great chance to give us back the lead, Wolfsburg manage to score with a well worked goal which De Gea had no chance in saving. Bastian Schweinsteiger has shown in the first half that he hasn't got the legs to keep up with Wolfsburg's counter attacks.

Now onto the crazy last few minutes - Jesse Lingard crossed the ball into Mata who didn't manage to get a touch on the ball. However, the ball still ended up in the back of the net. Mata was in an offside position and according to the new rules implicated over the summer, Mata didn't need to touch the ball to be penalsied for being offside. Therefore, the officials came to the correct decision.

In order for us to qualify, if results stay the same (0-0 in Holland), a draw will be enough for us to qualify for the knockout stages. However, we can't leave it to chance so we should be aiming to score more goals!

Second Half Analysis:

Another half of madness. We didn't do enough to seal a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League and results didn't go our way. 

We started the second half with clear intent that we wanted to get back into the game. However, we were also lucky not to concede 2 or 3 more. David De Gea pulled out some world class saves in order to keep our Champions League dream possible. However, it wasn't enough. We made our final two substitutions early on in the second half, taking off Mata and Schweinsteiger for Powell and Carrick. 

Whilst the score remained 2-1, we thought that results were going our way when CSKA Moscow scored the opener against PSV. However, similar to Wolfsburg against us, PSV equalised almost immediately. That result didn't matter too much to us when Fellaini managed to score a header, which made us think we were back in the game at 2-2. We were showing urgency to win and we were playing good attacking football. 

However, there was always the chance of a counter attack. Similar to how to conceded in the first half, in a short period of time since we scored, Wolfsburg managed to snatch the lead again with a strong, powerful Naldo header. Then things got even worse for us as PSV managed to score another against CSKA which virtually secured their qualification to the next round. Full time: 3-2

Overall Analysis:

We demanded more attacking and less boring football, and that is exactly what we got. However, if we invest more in going forward, it would obviously leave us more vulnerable at the back. This proved costly as our midfield pairing of Bastian Schweinstieger and Fellaini didn't have the pace to get back and help defend the counter attacks. This left us exposed at the back and more vulnerable to concede. 

Since the start of the season, we have been an average team and that is shown through our loss to Middlesbrough and us dropping points to lower league opposition. We are lucky to be where we are in the league as we haven't been playing great football. 

This game was always going to be tough with the huge pressure that we left onto the final game of the group stages. Also, our injury problems didn't help at all as it led to us fielding a very inexperienced young squad in a game which we needed to win. As a consequence of that and poor team selection, we will be playing Europa League football in February. 

Some huge blows for us today are the injuries to our star man this season Chris Smalling and our full back, Darmian. These additions to our injury list is weakening our team drastically as that would mean we have Shaw, Darmain, Jones, Smalling, Rojo and Valencia all injured. The one positive which we can take from the game today is our young right-back who played his first full 90 minutes for Manchester United, Varela. He was solid defensively and was a huge influential threat when going forward.

Now onto our next game, we're playing away against Bournemouth on Saturday at 17:30. These three points up for grabs are crucial in the title race and we will want to make amends for a disappointing result today. One question which will now be on every football fans' mind is whether or not Louis Van Gaal is the right man for the job at Manchester United...


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