Manchester United were held to a goalless draw by La Liga side Valencia in their second game of this season’s UEFA Champions League campaign.
Manchester United Draw Another Blank Against Valencia
On my way to the match last night, I felt a weird feeling of calm. European nights normally dictate some kind of reaction from players and fans as normally this is a big occasion.
In Europe, it’s the game for the big players to puff their chests out and perform on the biggest stage. When the line-up got announced I thought we had gone for it with a line-up that would not be defensive.
There would be no parking the bus according to that line up; little did we all know that the United bus was stuck in traffic. I don’t understand how the home team is late for a game.
Kick off was delayed due to circumstances outside of the club’s control according to the PA announcement.
Although, given what happened in the 90 minutes later, it might have been better to call the game off.
European affairs are much different from domestic games in terms of tempo and there is more emphasis on tactics.
Valencia kept their 4-4-2 formation and barely came out of it in the first 20 minutes.
Marcus Rashford had an early shot that went wide, while the lively Gonçalo Guedes had a shot from a tight angle just before.
When United quickened the tempo they were able to cut through Valencia. This allowed them to get through their rigid formation.
Valencia targeted United’s right-hand side with Guedes and full-back José Luis Gayà doubled up on Antonio Valencia to exploits his lack of pace.
A couple of times Guedes looked likely to create something for Valencia as every time he got the ball.
Guedes one-on-one with Antonio Valencia had me feeling uneasy as he would make a mistake leading to a goal.
Alexis Sanchez started on the right – he has had a poor start to the season, to put it mildly. He showed a few decent touches in the first half and threatened on the break.
He took a free-kick later in the half and it hit the wall and fell to Eric Bailly who, from around 40 yards, out decided to try his luck. It was an effort that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the John Smiths adverts with Peter Kay.
In the first few minutes, Valencia started very quickly, leading me to think if the United players were still in the dressing room.
Guedes again threatened with a curling effort that went just wide. This should have been a wakeup call for United and, for a short spell, it was.
United slowly grew into the game and began to threaten, a couple of players went down with injuries or for fouls on the Valencia side and this drew the ire of the home crowd.
The crowd exploded with expletives and boos when the Valencia players went down with an injury with many fans accusing them of play acting.
This woke everybody up and provided a roar around me that should have inspired more effort to snatch a winner, but there was no real quality.
Paul Pogba curled a free kick goalward but was a comfortable save for Neto while Romelu Lukaku, who didn’t play well, curled a shot at the right height for Neto to parry.
Marcus Rashford, probably United’s most dangerous player on the night, then hit the bar with a free kick later and Lukaku summed up his night with a header that went wide.
A bad start to the season got worse with this result; a bad performance with a lack of quality will only further infuriate the fans.
A lack of energy and speed of their passing was absent, and they possess a player who can do that in Fred and he stayed on the bench in a weird move for Mourinho.
United now go into two games against one of Europe’s best in Juventus and they will need to try to get something out of them.
A win tonight would have put them close to advancing out of the group and less pressure of the games against the Old Lady.
Things need to change at United and not just manager but players and structure in the club and their next European opponents are the perfect blueprint in which to work from.
United have lots of work to do and questions need to be asked. They need to do this quick as failure to act will cost them down the line.
A great point for the Spanish team after a defeat to Juventus in the first group game. This, coupled with two back to back games against Young Boys, means there is reason to smile for Los Che.
In the handbook for European away games this would have been a perfect performance; as they followed the basic principles and they are:
- Tactically disciplined
- Limit mistakes and individual errors
- Stick to your game plan
- Counter with precision and pace
- Stifle opponent’s midfield
- Disrupt the flow of game where necessary
- Put bodies on the line for blocks/tackles
- Frustrate opposition
In fact, the only thing missing from Valencia’s performance was a little more quality. Also, maybe a little more experience to create a good enough chance to score from.
Overall, it was an impressive performance from Valencia and this puts them back in the hunt to qualify from this group.
Manchester United 0-0 Valencia
So this was a frustrating game for the home fans as another frustrating game for them. United haven’t won a home game in 54 days since the opening weekend against Leicester.
I got stuck in a car park for an hour after the game to compound my night.
Stuck not moving around lots of other people doing the same; everyone began getting slowly more frustrated with the situation and this summed up my night pretty well.