Manchester United picked up an important victory in Valencia this evening to ease the pressure on their Champions League campaign, following the home draw with Glasgow Rangers in their opening group match.
This result also came following their disappointing 2-2 draw with Bolton Wanderers on Sunday, and without the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, whom I’ve heard claims from several opposition fans to be United’s only match winners.
Sir Alex Ferguson won the battle against his opposite number, Unai Emery on the Valencia bench. Opening the match with a 4-5-1 formation that saw Dimitar Berbatov as the sole striker, United limited Valencia’s chances mainly to crosses of which Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic dealt with throughout the game. This was Rio Ferdinand’s first competitive game of the season, following his knee injury that ruled him out of the World Cup. The England captain was solid in their defence, as they kept their first clean sheet on the road this season.
Tactically Setup for Clean Sheet
Anderson played a surprising attacking midfield role, given that he has only 1 goal to his name in over 100 appearances for Manchester United. Michael Carrick looked like a liability at times, while Nani was the most creative. And it was the Portuguese winger who would tear down the right wing with 5 minutes to go, laying the ball off to substitute Federico Macheda. Macheda squared the ball to Anderson’s replacement, Javier Hernandez, who would finish smartly to bag all 3 points for the English side.
Manchester United’s five man midfield prevented Valencia from creating little down the middle, while they had no aerial threat; something that caused United problems at Bolton in their last Premier League outing. Then, with less than 15 minutes remaining, he would move into a 4-4-2 formation, seeing as Valencia had not taken the game by the scruff of the neck themselves. The attacking substitutions were spot on, as both Macheda and Hernandez combined for the winning goal.
Return to Premier League
Manchester United return to action on Saturday for their third consecutive away game (fourth if you include Carling Cup), as they go to Sunderland, a side who have held Arsenal and Liverpool in their last two games. With Wayne Rooney not likely to return from his ankle injury, it will be interesting to see if Sir Alex Ferguson starts a similar formation and if Dimitar Berbatov remains up front giving his lack of productivity in their last two games.
Victorious London Sides
Tottenham Hotspur recorded their first ever win in the Champions League this evening; a 4-1 thrashing of Steve McClaren’s former side, FC Twente. The match included a unique hat trick from Rafael van der Vaart, who missed a penalty, scored a goal and later got sent off. Roman Pavlyuchenko converted two penalties for Spurs, while Gareth Bale scored the fourth. Nacer Chadli scored in between Pavlyuchenko’s penalties for FC Twente, whom drew their opening game with Inter Milan.
Last night, Chelsea were comfortable 2-0 winners over Marseille, while Arsenal pulled off an impressive 3-1 victory in Belgrade as all four English sides are sitting pretty after their opening two group stage matches of this years Champions League.