Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich: 4 Defining Statistics from Their UCL Clash
On Tuesday night, Manchester United surprised soccer fans all around the world, including many of their own, and earned a 1-1 tie against Bayern Munich.
While it should be noted that Bayern controlled possession for nearly three-fourths of the game, and United looked solely to defend for most of the first half, bottling up Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Co. is no small feat.
That feat, though, was ultimately achieved, as United have given themselves a fighting chance to progress to the semifinals—something many people thought they would not be able to say after the first leg.
The following statistics demonstrate how United, against all odds, came away with a respectable result.
Nemanja Vidic 13/13 on Clearances
Although he has had a somewhat disappointing season, with age and injuries often overshadowing his abilities, Nemanja Vidic put in a vintage performance against Bayern Munich.
With United sitting back and letting Bayern keep possession into the final third for most of the game, it was absolutely imperative that Vidic was the defensive stalwart that David Moyes was asking him to be.
And indeed he was.
The veteran firmly stood his ground, successfully completing 13 of 13 clearances, also amassing an interception, and winning his only aerial duel (Squawka).
In addition, Vidic won two out of his three tackles, misplaced just one of his 17 passes, and he provided United with the go-ahead goal with a sublime header.
With a team-high Squawka performance score of 74 (next-highest was Danny Welbeck's score of 22), it is clear that Vidic's flawless performance was pivotal in United's success.
United Record 4 Shots on Goal to Bayern's 3
As mentioned before, Bayern held most of the possession, precisely 74 percent, and largely controlled the game. However, this did not lead to them scoring more goals than United.
Although Bayern completed 500 more passes than United, and passed with 91 percent accuracy opposed to United's 68 percent, the German side were unable to really penetrate the United defense (Squawka).
They did complete 13 key passes, but Nemanja Vidic and David de Gea had solid performances, and Bayern's offensive production was generally disappointing considering how much possession they had.
Conversely, United held the ball just 26 percent of the time, and were wasteful on those occasions, completing just 21 of their 54 long balls (WhoScored).
But however ugly and unorthodox their style of play was, United was the more productive team in the final third.
They posted four shots on target on six attempts, far better than the three shots on target Bayern mustered up on 16 tries.
In addition, United were more accurate in crossing, with 26 percent accuracy compared to Bayern's 17 percent accuracy.
Arjen Robben Completes Only 1 of 5 Dribbles
Going into the match, Arjen Robben was expected to be a major problem for left-back Alexander Buttner, who was expected to be a major liability by many.
However, neither of those fears came into fruition.
Per WhoScored and Squawka, Buttner was not necessarily flawless and Robben wasn't horrible. The former only completed 33 percent of his passes and made only one successful tackle out of three, while Robben still completed 85 percent of his passes.
But it wasn't the Dutchman's strongest game either, as he completed just one out of five take ons, zero out of four crosses, and put only one of his six shots on target. He was dispossessed twice and turned the ball over once as well.
Meanwhile, Buttner started off slow, but improved his play as the game progressed. He finished with two tackles, one blocked shot and interception apiece, and five clearances.
No one would mistake him for David Alaba or Barca's Jordi Alba, but he certainly helped United more than he hurt them.
Thomas Muller and Wayne Rooney Complete 1 Dribble Combined
While both sides managed to score a goal apiece, no one would say that either team was particularly good in the final third at Old Trafford.
Much of that came from the uninspiring performances of strikers Wayne Rooney and Thomas Muller.
Although Rooney produced two key passes, he was dispossessed five times, and only mustered up one shot on goal (WhoScored). In fairness, he was facing arguably the greatest team on earth, but in the end he failed to produce the magic he had produced as of late.
Muller, like Rooney, was underwhelming, completing only one dribble and key pass apiece. His one shot was off target, and he had three turnovers. His disappointing performance prompted Pep Guardiola to replace him with Mario Mandzukic in the 63rd minute.
United and Bayern weren't very impressive going forward, and Rooney and Muller should take some blame for that.
Information from Squawka and WhoScored was used in this article, and some of the stats are from calculations that the author performed on his own.