Porto's Attacking Verve Exploits Manchester United's Fragility

ZedContributor IApril 8, 2009

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 07:  Cristian Rodriguez of FC Porto challenges Michael Carrick of Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final First Leg match between Manchester United and FC Porto at Old Trafford on April 7, 2009 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Fearless Porto rose to the Old Trafford occasion and exploited Man Utd’s fragile defence and may have shifted the tie into their favour.  Man Utd players looked dejected at the final whistle, and so they should be.

If Manchester United is to progress into the semifinals they will have to be the first British club to beat Porto at the Estadio do Dragao, who are unbeaten in 22 attempts.

But if they want to defeat Porto next week then they must defend better as the Portuguese champions exposed Man Utd weaknesses, makeshift defence or not.

Sir Alex Ferguson lamented United’s poor defending and admitted that it looked very fragile. “We only have ourselves to blame. You can’t say that it was a great manufactured goal. It just exemplified the fragile nature of our defending at the moment."

Porto were fearless and for much of the game were the better side, and manager Jesualdo Ferriera game plan of going for the game from the very first minute looked as if it paid off. He chose to play three forward up front which caused havoc for United’s back line. Their counter attacking style and passing was terrific, much better to that of United.

When United attack, it is like they are playing a 4-2-4 and when they commit more bodies forward it leaves them vulnerable. By pushing right up the pitch, Manchester United put unrelenting pressure on the opposition and it can be a great form of attack but may leave them short at the back.

Hulk, in particular, posed the most threat. His constant running at Man Utd’s defence was troublesome, and he continued throughout the duration of the game to hassle the Red Devil’s back four.

In the second half, the hosts were much tighter at the back. Vidic and Evans improved but it still could have been better. Evans was substituted for Gary Neville, but you could tell his best years were behind him.

After Carlos Tevez looked to have won the game, the only thing United should have been concentrating on was protecting their lead. Instead they didn’t and they were stretched by yet another counter attack, Man United’s expansive style was maybe a factor as much as Porto’s attacking verve.