Champions League bold prediction: Man United does not mutate, Barcelona won 3 important points

The business end of the Champions League group stage on Supreme + will come to us with Thursday. There are still 12 spots left to qualify for the knockout stages with some of Europe’s biggest teams – including Manchester United and Barcelona – having a lot of work to do in their final group stage matches. Here are some key issues to keep in mind.

Villarreal vs Man United: Nothing unexpected for the Red Devils

In sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United have discarded the cocktail’s physical embodiment of their own unwavering belief in their own exceptionalism and are utterly confused about how an elite football club operates has tormented the club in the past. for a better decade. But knocking down the scarecrow doesn’t change the underlying reality. As Atalanta’s away banner said during the Reds’ recent Champions League game “the rot starts from scratch”.

This is not the place to debate the information of the ruling Glazer family but instead, to note that Solskjaer is not the root cause of United’s problems. Join the team he lost his job (and of course he was complicit in creating). One cannot question the talent of many individuals without coherence with its design.

So when interim coach Michael Carrick arrives to name his side at El Madrigal on Tuesday, he will still face the same problems in possession that his predecessor had. did. Who is the player besides Fred, Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic or someone else to link the different offensive and defensive lines? Is it possible to put two of United’s most gifted playmakers – Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba – on a team that harnesses their talents? Is Jadon Sancho allowed to play football now?

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Then there’s the great question about Cristiano Ronaldo. Can Carrick cover his flaws when the ball isn’t at his feet to the point where the team can exploit his finishing qualities? From Real Madrid to Manchester United to Juventus, wherever he goes Ronaldo scores, it’s just that in recent years so many managers seem to have lost their jobs to him. He’s a player coaches are bound to be passionate about, and that won’t change anyone at Old Trafford.

Before signing Ronaldo, you might gather something similar to a vision of how United could play even if it wasn’t the man Solskjaer was always after: a team that could excel in Breakthrough gameplay with dynamic, flexible men capable of tearing apart opponents on the counter court. Since mid-September, that approach is rarely seen. It doesn’t seem to fit the most important figure in club football, a player whose crucial goals, right or wrong make him irreplaceable but raises questions that no one should ever think. Carrick’s duty could not answer.

Barcelona vs. Benfica: Even more rapid progress from Xavi

Carrick isn’t the only great player of the year to feature in his first Champions League game this week. New Barcelona coach Xavi has at least made his first appearance as a high-stakes manager this weekend, in a 1-0 win over Espanyol. One game alone cannot tell us whether this team will succeed under one of their all-time greats nor if this young generation will be on par with The core has dominated European football with Xavi in ​​their hearts or not.

But it at least brings optimism into one of Barcelona’s most decisive games of the season. Beat Benfica and they are guaranteed to go to the last 16. campaign.

Benfica is likely to be a more difficult opponent than Espanyol. After all, they even gave Bayern Munich a headache in a double title win with the Bundesliga champions. They may have conceded nine goals in those two games but especially in the first 70 minutes of the first meeting – before Leroy Sane crossed the dike – there were flashes of the same team that had Draw with PSV Eindhoven goalless with 10 men in the match. qualifying, a team can let their opponent down and keep looking for another body to get in the way of shots.

However, early signs from the win over Espanyol show that this team can break through the most solid defence. In a challenging game, Barcelona produced 16 shots, the second most they have registered in a La Liga or Champions League game this season. They hit their target from the open game five times, completed the third most offensive pass in the campaign, and played with a larger width – actually according to Opta’s sort data, this is the widest that they played all season.

This particular move, which ended with Xavi’s side quickly switching play for Ilias Akhomach to hang a dangerous cross behind, feels like a rather welcome return to what Barcelona have been. is at its best. Sergio Busquets is looking up to search for movement around him. He could have gone long with Jordi Alba – and for a moment he seemed to go in that direction – before knocking out Gavi. Espanyol tried to block the opponent’s passes but the home team moved too accurately and gracefully before letting Busquets spread.

With Busquets, Gavi and Alba pressuring on the left flank, note how wide Barcelona stretched with Ilias. It is a familiar sign to those who have followed the Barca teams that Xavi plays for

Wyscout / beIN Sports

The winner of the weekend’s game could come from a controversial penalty converted by Memphis Depay, but the sheer pressure Barcelona apply on the opponent’s low area means it’s very likely a Serious mistakes can happen.

Perhaps Benfica will not play for the sake of Camp Nou. A defence of Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia, greatly improved in his first game under new management, is most likely to appear soon. But in the end, if the game is square, they certainly won’t bet by elimination in pursuit of three points. They should be wary of that impulsiveness. First impressions suggest that deep sitting could fall into Barcelona’s hands. After all, if anyone knows what that will happen against a team holding on to just one point, it’s Xavi.

Chelsea vs Juventus: A Quiet Day for Goalkeepers

There’s a lot at stake at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. For Chelsea, there are still conditions to guarantee a place in the round of 16. Seems to be in form for now, but another defeat to the top of Group H coupled with Zenit’s win over Malmo may only bring some unnecessary anxiety to their trip to Saint Petersburg in the second leg. Final. For Juventus, a point or better guarantees them the top spot while two unbeaten games against the European champions offer a welcome to send them into next year’s knockout stages.

It is difficult to know what will happen from both sides, especially on the offensive side, as they are keeping an eye on the fitness of key strikers. Chelsea could not be without Romelu Lukaku, but if he is fit, he could very well be in the starting XI at Stamford Bridge. Meanwhile, Paulo Dybala may only be fit enough for the bench while Massimiliano Allegri also sweats for the availability of a host of players, the most notable of which include Giorgio Chiellini, Aaron Ramsey, Dejan Kulusevski and Federico Bernadeschi.

One wonders, however, whether these two offensive forces will be able to break through the opponent’s defences despite their full praise. With the caveat that Group H is not the deepest group in the Champions League this season, Chelsea (three) and Juventus (eight) have faced just 11 shots on target combined in their opening four games. surname. The average sides in the contest were faced with 18.

Juventus in particular appear to have switched to defensive gear after a slow start to the season. Both Lazio and Fiorentina had only one save from Wojciech Szczesny and Mattia Perin in the two Serie A matches the Bianconeri played. Meanwhile, Edouard Mendy has a pretty bad record with 12 clean sheets in 16 Champions League matches for Chelsea. In part, he was the one to benefit from the excellent defense in front of him, but last season in particular he proved to be a pretty stellar striker with 3.76 goals conceded on Opta’s tally.

Of the two, Juventus’ defense certainly looks more vulnerable. Chelsea’s forwards deal very well without Lukaku, especially since their full-backs are starting to sag, while they don’t face as significant absences as Chiellini could prove for the team. guest. Still those heading to Stamford Bridge hoping for more goals on Tuesday night may want to adjust their expectations first. Champions League bold prediction: Man United does not mutate, Barcelona won 3 important points


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