United’s hope to progress the group stage was kept alive after Ronaldo’s last-minute winner. Due to their loss against Young Boys if United were to lose this game, then they would’ve had to rely on other teams’ results.
1. Solskjaer has changed to a more advanced variation of a 4-3-3 including 2 advanced central midfielders. This has come as a surprise to some people due to Solskjaer previous relentlessness to play a 4-2-3-1. The tactical change allows for Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes to play in the same team along with the likes of Sancho, Ronaldo and Greenwood.
It didn’t take long to understand that United’s new approach which would require Scott McTominay to act as a solo holding midfielder who looks to advance the team forward from deeper positions. This formation will have some negative connotations including leaving the former partnership of Fred and McTominay, having limited numbers when the ball is turned over and the potential of the opposition having a numerical advantage in central areas.
2. David De Gea in the past has been seen to be a reliable goalkeeper that performs most weeks to a good standard. However, in recent years the majority of performances have come under scrutiny as he seems to be weak aerially and at times not focused, this has dramatically changed over the 21/22 season as Solskjaer has backed him and has full trust in his abilities.
The change in form has been most noticeable after his penalty save against West Ham, before this De Gea had let in all of the previous 40 penalties against him. His performance against Villareal has re-instated this as he made 4 terrific saves including a wold class save against former Bournemouth player Arnaut Danjuma.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo’s throughout his career has been a machine who at times was unstoppable, this was highlighted against Villareal as his late goal kept Manchester United’s hope of reaching the knock-out stages alive. Under the lights at any Champions League game, Ronaldo thrives, especially at the Theatre of Dreams.
During the game he was isolated and had an underwhelming performance until the last minute, this was achieved by Unai Emery’s Villareal team as they cut out his supply line of Pogba and Fernandes. This game plan was executed to perfection until the 94th minute where a whipped cross to the back post fell to Ronaldo causing pandemonium in the last minute of the game. This demonstrated Ronaldo’s unalive quality and predatory instinct to be at the right place at the right time.
4. Diogo Dalot is often known to offer a lot going forward and solid in defence, unfortunately, he failed to make a positive impact in either box, as his hands were full with Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma who enjoyed a comfortable match-up with the United full-back.
Dalot could have been a fault for multiple goals, however, due to Villarreal’s poor shooting and lack of luck in the final third he wasn’t at fault for their goal. Dalot struggling to perform in big games was highlighted after he was match score performance amongst many websites and fans were around a 3/4 out of 10.
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