Five things noticed as Manchester United exited the Champions League after a 1-0 loss against Bayern Munich at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening.
The opening 30 minutes of the tie was very even, with both teams looking to control the game and assert their dominance at Old Trafford. The game was dead even at half-time but ended on a sour note for the United faithful, with the in-form Harry Maguire having to leave the field with a groin problem.
With Jonny Evans replacing Maguire at the end of the first half and Aaron Wan-Bissaka coming on for Luke Shaw at halftime, the second half went much the same way until the 70th minute, when Kingsley Coman put Bayern ahead with 20 minutes left to play.
As the final whistle drew ever closer, United tried to search for an equaliser, but to no avail as they finished bottom of Group A, exiting European competition entirely.
Here are five things noticed from the tie.
#1 – United matched them to start
With Bayern Munich starting a full-strength team, Manchester United matched them well in the first half, especially in midfield.
With some worried that a midfield two of Sofyan Amrabat and Scott McTominay might leave United too far open and easy to cut through, the side stayed compact and narrow, forcing Bayern to play out wide to their wingers.
The even nature of the two teams was the overall theme of the game, but Coman’s goal defined the evening, and United crashed out of Europe at the full-time whistle.
#2 – Varane’s tactical difference
Raphaël Varane’s introduction back into the team allowed for an immediate shift in tactics that benefited the team, with Luke Shaw being given more freedom down the left-hand side.
Varane’s inclusion let Shaw combine well with Alejandro Garnacho. It allowed the Englishman to drift inside further up the pitch and use his excellent passing skills to either push play forward or switch the ball out wide to Antony or Diogo Dalot on the right wing, which happened on a number of occasions.
It was a shame to see Shaw substituted at half-time with what seems to be a hamstring problem, and although Dalot did well to cover for him in the second half, his impact was not the same.
#3 – Fans applaud Maguire
It would have been impossible to predict a few months ago that Harry Maguire would receive a standing ovation after being substituted at Old Trafford, but that is exactly what happened.
Maguire’s injury in the first half was incredibly unfortunate after the player had put in multiple very good performances across the last few weeks, and the reaction from the crowd spoke volumes.
It showed just how well the former club captain has done to climb his way back into the XI, and if he is set for a spell on the sidelines, it will be a huge miss for Ten Hag.
#4 – Højlund schooled by Upamecano
Rasmus Højlund’s night against Dayot Upamecano was a one-way battle, with the French central defender teaching the young striker a lesson in how to get completely marked out of a fixture.
The Danish international is young, and this game will serve as a good experience for him to learn from, with the result ultimately being meaningless due to Copenhagen’s win over Galatasaray.
However, with Martial leaving the club by the summer and potentially in January if the right offer comes in, Højlund must now step up in the Premier League if the club are to climb the table to play in the Champions League next season.
#5 – Good, but too late and nowhere near enough
Compared to the absolute shambles of a performance put in against Bournemouth, United were quite good against Bayern on the night.
It was their best performance of the Champions League by far, but this has come way too late, with the club having effectively written their fate into stone after they lost to FC Copenhagen on matchday four.
Next up is a trip to Anfield, a tie that Ten Hag and his Reds lost 7-0 last season.
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