Manchester United put in a great shift in Madrid on Wednesday night to give them a good chance of progressing to the quarter final of The Champions League. Some will feel that The Red Devils should have won the game. Despite spending large chunks of the evening under serious pressure from their opponent, United probably had the better chances to add to the scoreline, during the first 90 minutes of this huge tie. Robin van Persie hit a beauty with his right foot, which shaved the crossbar and he also scuffed a much simpler chance on his stronger left foot, in the last few minutes of the game. Ryan Giggs also had a gilt edged opportunity toward the end of the 90 but he elected to cut inside instead of hitting it first time with his left foot from 12 yards out.
Perhaps the sheer weight of occasion got to the players at The Bernabeu. For, this season, Manchester United’s style has been punctuated by a killer instinct. They haven’t always dominated the opposition but have been clinical and ruthless in front of goal. But this instinct deserted them somewhat in Madrid.
Nevertheless it was still an excellent performance from a team which has now experienced all that Madrid can throw at them. Surely at Old Trafford you we will see Manchester United attack more often and with greater purpose. But they need to take their chances this time if they are to finish the good work that they have started.
As for Madrid they will feel disappointed that they couldn’t press home their territorial advantage. They battered United’s rearguard in the first half but only scored once and seemed to run out of ideas in the last half hour of the game. As expected, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mezut Ozil were Real’s best players but, as the game wore on Manchester United managed to nullify their threat. After a shaky start Rafael Da Silva shackled Ronaldo well and Phil Jones did a great job shielding his defence from the threat of the Portuguese.
Many now feel that Manchester United have the advantage but the first leg result has left every outcome possible. Real Madrid only need a high scoring draw and they certainly have the players to breach the United defence more than once. United can’t afford to sit back and hope to hold on. They need to take the game by the scruff of the neck and come out firing in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford.
The tie is poised beautifully and the world will be watching as the gloves come off and the teams get to the business end of the tie in three weeks.
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