Tactical Battles That Will Shape Manchester United's Clash with Bayern Munich
David Moyes' Manchester United face an unenviable task of attempting to overcome Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich over two legs in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final.
Here are the tactical battles that will shape United's clash with Bayern.
Do not hesitate to comment below with your opinion: Can United knock Bayern out?
The 4-1 win over Aston Villa should have either been a chance for Manchester United manager David Moyes to rest his players for the Bayern Munich fixture or do a dress rehearsal for the Bayern game—neither was accomplished.
Kagawa reprised his "I start on the left wing but I play centrally" role against Villa.
No Robin van Persie (injury), no Mata (ineligible) vs. Bayern should have equalled Kagawa playing behind Wayne Rooney against Villa, which would have given Kagawa one game he could analyse before he went into the match against Bayern in the same role.
This is assuming Kagawa starts.
"He [Kagawa] is in our thoughts for tomorrow," Moyes said, per the Telegraph. "It's something we seriously consider."
Is Moyes keeping his cards close to his chest or does he genuinely believe there is another option to Kagawa starting centrally?
Moyes is so scatter-gun with his approach to Kagawa (and Mata for that matter) that you cannot really tell.
Biggest Hope: Rooney
When Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer played for Schalke, he let in two unbelievably long-range goals from Georgios Tzavellas and Dejan Stankovic.
It is not inconceivable for Bayern to pass the ball aimlessly for the large majority of the game, while United sit back and then out of nowhere, Rooney takes a pot-shot and catches Neuer off guard.
West Ham United keeper Adrian will attest to the perils of not staying on your line against United.
Biggest Concern: Alexander Buttner
What made Buttner great at Vitesse were his long surging runs not his defensive stoutness.
He is an inconsistent marker and his defensive positional awareness is questionable at best.
Starting left-back Patrice Evra is suspended, per James Tuck at Manchester United's official website.
Buttner vs. Arjen Robben is a highly advantageous matchup for Bayern, a team that should be attacking United's left flank on all occasions.
X-Factor: Adnan Januzaj
United management are worried about Januzaj burning out hence why he has been given irregular minutes in recent times.
"We have seen signs in training that we have to be careful what we do with him," Moyes said, per Sky Sports. "But we are just being careful with him."
If Januzaj does not start against Bayern, he should be given an extensive cameo appearance, at least 20-30 minutes in both fixtures, because he can unlock an opposing back line with one world-class pass.
3-3 Draw Against Hoffenheim
Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola played essentially a B team (Tom Starke in goals, Diego Contento at left-back, Daniel van Buyten at centre-back, Xherdan Shaqiri and Claudio Pizarro up front) against Hoffenheim.
Contento had an Alexander Buttner-like game and was behind the eight-ball from the get-go; misplaced 33 percent of his passes, only made one tackle and did not take advantage of a rare start.
Unlike Buttner, who will start for Manchester United against Bayern, Contento will be warming the bench watching David Alaba play against United.
Javi Martinez Concern
With Dante suspended, Martinez could be playing at the heart of Bayern's defence, but he is one booking away from serving a suspension, per UEFA.org.
This may affect how Martinez goes about asserting his authority on the field. If he is more demure, could this cost Bayern?
What about Van Buyten? He is a lumbering defender, so he is not ideal when United will play with a lot of pace and energy on the counter.
Watch Out For Pizarro
Every month or so, Pizarro tells the world: "I am still here!"
Another productive game from Pizarro, a rarely-used squad player, who scored twice and created Shaqiri's goal.
Pizarro could be called on if Bayern need something to happen.
The Bayern Munich game will be familiar territory for Manchester United manager David Moyes in that he is the heavy underdog with next to no chance of winning.
Moyes should be heading into the Bayern game with an Everton-type complex.
What Moyes will do is park the bus, set United up on the counter and emulate what Chelsea did to Bayern in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final.
Hercules' 2-0 win over Pep Guardiola's Barcelona in 2010 had a Moyes-esque game plan.
Then-Hercules manager Esteban Vigo was pretty simple in his tactics:
- Played a deep back four with centre-back Noe Pamarot acting as a quasi-sweeper.
- Two strong midfielders in Abel Aguilar and Matias Fritzler.
- Two industrious wide players in Tiago Gomes and Royston Drenthe. Both would cut inside and clog up midfield.
- Hit Barca on the counter—despite having 23 percent of possession, Hercules mustered seven shots on target (Barca had nine).
- According to Zonal Marking, deep-lying forward Nelson Valdez, who scored both goals, "[dropped] off Trezeguet into a midfield role, where he tirelessly battled to help win the ball back."
- Wayne Rooney can do that.
There is also Inter Milan's 3-1 win over Barca for Moyes to look over.
These examples suggest even Guardiola can be outfoxed, and his inability to adjust in-game has cost him in the past.
If Guardiola's Bayern play the game without urgency while Moyes' United defend valiantly, it could get dicey for Bayern, the runaway favourites for the UEFA Champions League title.
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