Real Madrid vs. Man United rarely disappoints and the game yesterday was no exception. A brilliant game with 90 minutes filled with pulsating action enthralled a worldwide crowd of over 25 crore viewers. Let us here look at the tie and its implications from Man United`s viewpoint:
SOLID DEFENDING: Yes United rode their luck at times but it was good defending and keeping which succeeded in keeping the ominous threat of Real Madrid to just one goal. The lads at the back have improved from their abject displays at the start of the season and it showed with Jones, Evans, and Rio putting in solid shifts. Real`s attackers tried their best to put goals past them but were foiled for large parts of the game. Rafael however had an off day with Ronaldo and Ozil getting the better of him on quite a few occasions and Evra was prone to leaving his flank wide open to crosses from the likes of Di Maria and Ozil. Jones was brilliant in his energy, reading of CR7`s runs, interceptions and aggression. He is 19 but his reading of the game belies his age. Keeping him fit for the return leg would be on top of Sir Alex`s mind and he`ll be needed if United are to progress to the quarters.
AMAZING KEEPING! : David De Gea was absolutely fantastic yesterday. The guy is, for some reason, always under the spotlight (defies belief!) and gets scrutinised by a trigger happy British media at every game. One `mistake` and there are clamours for him to be removed as he is fast becoming a massive liability for a club of United`s stature. Give him a god damn break! He really doesn`t need to prove his worth to anyone. In terms of reflexes, he could very easily be amongst the top 3 in the world! He has his flaws true but hey, at 22 who was perfect? He was at his arch rivals` ground but instead of letting the pressure get to him, he put in a display which prompted media fellas to brand it a `coming of age` one! Speaks volumes about his mental strength. I personally would not let him go anywhere for the next decade or so! He`ll save United countless points throughout not just this season but many more to come!
SUPER WELBZ! : Danny Welbeck really impressed me yesterday. He was strong, powerful and ran like a gazelle! One slaloming run of his had everyone on their feet and there were audible phews when he was unable to score after that. His energy, determination and in short Man United-ism shone through. That display was the best he has put in a red shirt and he deserves a lot of credit for the same. His header was a very good one and it gave United belief and joy at a time when the home side had been monopolizing possession. The precious away goal might be very handy come the 2nd leg on 5/3 and he was unlucky to be denied by Lopez in the 2nd half around about the 76th minute. The Boss would have been delighted with how a home grown Manc stood out in an arena featuring superstars. Hats off to Danny!
SHINJI KAGAWA: He was removed for Giggs after the hour mark and though critics might say that he had a bad day, I disagree. He does look a tad unhappy but that`s more probably because he has not been able to break free and shine this season. He reminds me a little of how Seba Veron struggled initially at United. He is a big talent and we need to give him some more time. He was in ominous form for Dortmund and once he gets his lucky break, he`ll be a real force for us. He tries hard every game and I`m sure things will fall into place for him pretty soon. He brings a sharp mind and an ever growing hunger to learn to the table. It`s important that he be backed by all supporters of the club.
THE 2ND LEG: Will be a belter! Both sides will go for it. United know that if Real get two goals, they would have to get 3. So, defending would be a big point of focus for the players. De Gea would need to keep up the super saves going and RvP would have to take the chances he gets. Iker might be back for the 2nd leg and his pedigree is legendary. United would ideally like to score once and then try to hit the away team on the break. A 2-0 win might be possible but it will need a herculean effort from the entire team to shut out the Real attack and especially CR7. He`ll be returning to Old Trafford for the 1st time and would be determined as hell to get his side through. Stopping him will require De Gea, Jones, the back 4 to have the games of their lives really. United`s firepower will see them put goals past Iker and the home support will need to make it hell for the away side. United would be confident of getting a huge fillip in belief by getting the better of the 9 time European champions.
5/3 would be a day which the world of football won`t forget. Two titans of the game would go all out and in the end only one will go through. May the best side win!