An own goal from Luke Shaw saw Barcelona beating Manchester United in the first leg of UCL QF
An early Luke Shaw's own goal handed a narrow victory to Valverde's side as both the teams failed to ignite the game even with the presence of many big names on the pitch. Solskjaer made just one change to his side which lost against Wolves. Jesse Lingard made way for Marcus Rashford who was deemed fit to start.
Man United set up in a 3-5-2 formation with Lukaku and Rashford leading the line. Ernesto Valverde also made a single change with Nelson Semedo replacing Sergio Roberto in the defence. Ousmane Dembele, who was nursing an injury, made it to the bench with Coutinho started in the left side of the front three.
#5 Below-par Barcelona takes the lead, Man United have themselves to blame
The only difference between the two sides was the own goal netted by Luke Shaw. Barcelona was as sluggish as United when going forward. Lionel Messi was easily contained by the host and Luis Suarez failed to find the net for yet another away game. Relentless pressing from United stopped the visitors to play out from the back. Even with the large chunk of ball possession (66%), they managed to have only three shots on target.
These slow and dull performances could have resulted in a loss if Man United were being sharper and braver as an attacking outlet. Surprisingly, at Old Trafford, Manchester United has been awful in the Champions League this season. Out of possible 5 games, they have won only a single one and that too against BSC Young Boys. Marouane Fellaini, who made a switch to CSL a few months back, is the only goalscorer for United at Old Trafford in these five games.
It's hard to see how United has managed to make it to the quarterfinal with this dismal record. Tonight as well, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Diogo Dalot, all wasted their chances to score. Ole has been branded as a manager who is trying to play positive football but he cannot hide from the fact that his side failed to record a single shot on target in the whole 90 minutes.
#4 The yellow cards menace
The referees had a poor game. Firstly, a miserable call to rule the goal offside. Thankfully, VAR came to rescue and rightfully awarded the goal. Secondly, the Italian referee was easily fooled by play-acting by various players. Luis Suarez made things looks worse when Smalling contacted him from the back and the referee didn't hesitate to brandish a yellow card.
Jesse Lingard was also shown a yellow card two minutes after coming off the bench. There was minimal contact on Arturo Vidal but somehow the referee deemed that as a yellow card offence. Five minutes before that, Arturo Vidal was himself booked after he caught Fred but replays showed that the contact wasn't serious enough to throw a yellow card.
On the other hand, Sergio Busquets would consider himself lucky to stay on the pitch after making three big fouls. In the 5th minute of the game, he somehow escaped a booking for his high challenge on McTominay when both the players went for a 50-50 ball. After 12 minutes, he got his booking when he dragged Pogba down to the grass. He made another poor challenge on Pogba before the half-time which could have resulted in a second yellow but the referee refrained himself from doing so.
#3 Scott McTominay bossed the midfield
It's not a common sight when Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez is on the pitch and a 22-year old midfielder who doesn't play too often gets the Man of the Match award. McTominay's performance should earn a lot of plaudits. He overshadowed Sergio Busquets and showed constant urgency to win the balls.
McTominay was the player who harried Barca's backline with some impressive pressing, forcing them to make little errors. His numbers from the game given below buttress his fantastic outing. As per reports, Ander Herrera is set for a move to France. Can this Scottish international stake a claim for that position?
#2 Right back woes for Man United
Ashley Young had a nightmare. Just have a glance at his numbers from the game. Tackles won - 1
Shots on target - 0
Dribbles successfully completed - 0
Passing accuracy - 73%
Adding more to this, Young attempted 11 crosses in the 90 minutes but completed none. In the first half, United got two good counterattacking opportunities but at both times, Young wayward crosses embarrassed the United's faithful. He might be good enough to give another year extension, just to feature in a few games but by no means, he has the abilities to start every game from the next season. Antonio Valencia is well beyond his prime and should be leaving in the summer. Diogo Dalot is still a 20-year-old kid and is not ready to be a regular starter for United. Ed Woodward and co. have to search for a solid right back in the summer if they want to strengthen their backline.
#1 What's ahead?
The Red Devils will make a long trip to Spain to faceoff Barcelona on 16th April. It's all to play for in the second leg but Barcelona will be heavy favourites after taking a big away goal advantage. Barca hasn't lost a single game in this year's Champions League and with Messi in sparkling form, it's hard to see any major turnaround but wait, their's another part of the story as well. This season, United have demonstrated their attacking prowess to come back from behind away from home, against Ronaldo's Juventus and Mbappe's PSG then why not against Messi's Barcelona? They have done it twice already. Could they do it again?