All posts by monis2410

Man Utd vs Barcelona : David vs Goliath?

Two of the most decorated clubs in European football are set to lock horns at Old Trafford on Wednesday in what is the standout fixture of this season’s quarter-final ties of the UEFA Champions League.

Manchester United and Barcelona have given us some unforgettable and exhilarating games in the past, and the same is being considered again, when the two teams play each other after 8 years, at the Theatre of Dreams, with United looking to take revenge of their defeat to the Catalans in the final of the competition in 2011.

Manchester United come into this match with not the best of form, having lost three of their last four matches in all competitions. However, their heroics against PSG in the Round of 16 of the competition must have given enough confidence to Solskjaer’s side to get one over the La Liga leaders in the same fashion. Barcelona come into the game undefeated in the competition so far, with their talisman, Lionel Messi, being in scintillating form of late and will be his side’s main attacking threat if they are to carry any advantage back to the Camp Nou for the second leg.

Manchester United have a number of injury issues to contend with. Defenders Antonia Valencia and Eric bailly are out long term. Their mid-field maestro Ander Herrera ,their man for the big games, is also set to miss out with injury along with former Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez. Marcus Rashford did miss the last game against Wolves, but is training this week and Solskjaer remains confident he will be ready for the big match. All eyes will be on star midfielder Paul Pogba and if United are to take any positive result out of the game, his contribution and performance will be critical. If Barcelona do start with Sergi Roberto as right back, both Pogba and Rashford will be looking to take advantage from the left side of the pitch as he is not a natural full back and it could be a weak link for the Catalans. United are likely to sit deep and defend with the hope of hurting Barcelona on the counter, utilizing the pace of Rashford, Lingard and Lukaku up top.

Expected Line up: De Gea ; Young , Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw ; McTominay, Fred , Pogba ; Lingard , Lukaku, Rashford.

Barcelona come into the tie as favourites with almost a fit starting 11, Ousmane Dembele seems the only one likely to miss out through an injury even though he has travelled with the squad. Gerard Pique on his return to Old Trafford is expected to start alongside Clement Lenglet in the center of defence, with veteran Sergio Busquets guarding the back four and making it difficult for the United attackers to get any space and time on the ball.

With Phillipe Coutinho expected to start alongside Messi and Luis Suarez as the attacking three, United defenders will be have to be hot on their heels throughout the game as even a small mistake can be punished in the most severe form by the Barcelona attack.

Expected Line up : Ter Stegen ; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet , Alba ; Rakitic , Busquets , Arthur; Messi, Suarez, Coutinho.

Even though most expect Barcelona to come out on top at Old Trafford, Solsjkaer’s side cannot be taken lightly and it won’t be easy for Barcelona who are yet to win a match at United’s home. And given the way Man Utd produced the epic comeback against PSG with their sheer spirit and determination, you never know if United could indeed pull out a surprise and go to the Camp Nou for the second leg with an advantage.

Bayern demolish Dortmund to reclaim Bundesliga top spot! Talking points :

Bayern Munich thrashed title rivals Borussia Dortmund 5–0 in Saturday’s Der Klassiker to reclaim top spot from their arch rivals. Described by many as the ‘biggest game in Europe’, Bayern swept aside Dortmund who led the table by 2 points before the game, with a ruthless display of attacking and fearless football and now lead the table by a point with 6 games left to play.
The visitors, who once lead the league by 9 points and looked set to prevent Bayern winning their seventh consecutive title, have seen their form dip in recent weeks and the display on Saturday showed they need to overcome a huge hurdle now if they still are to prevent Bayern winning their 29th Bundesliga title.

A lot was expected from the match, and Dortmund indeed started brightly with Mahmoud Dahoud hitting the post early on. However, once Mats Hummel’s header gave Bayern the lead, there was no looking back for the Bavarians. They lead 4–0 at the break, with goals from Lewandowski, Javi Martinez and Serge Gnabry adding to Dortmund’s misery.
And it was Lewandowski who completed the rout at the closing stages of the match, thereby also making him the first foreign player to score 200 league goals in German football.

But lets have a look at where exactly Dortmund got it wrong and Bayern prevailed.

  1. Bayern dominated the all important Mid-field battle : Nico Kovac’s decision to start with  Javi Martinez and Thiago Alcantara was spot on as the duo provided perfect blend of defensive stability and attacking creativity in the middle of the park. Martinez playing as the defensive midfielder made some crucial interventions and did not allow the likes of Dahoud and Reus to play their free flowing football for Dortmund. He capped off a solid performance with a well finished goal as well which effectively sealed the game for Bayern. Thiago Alcantara was also at his mercurial best and the opposition has no answer to his exquisite passing range. Along with the assist to Bayern’s opener, he created seven chances, more than any player in the game.
  2. Dortmund’s poor defending:
    Dortmund’s back four were poor is possession multiple times and found it difficult to cope with Bayern’s pressing game. Their Center back pairing of Akanji and Zagadou were at fault for most of the goals, also with Diallo playing as make shift Left back, Bayern took full advantage of their poor chemistry and below average link-up in defense. Also surprisingly Lukasz Piszczek was equally poor as the right back, and was constantly troubled by the pace and agility of Coman throughout the game. Also he was at fault for the first Bayern goal, giving Hummels enough room to place his header past their GK.

This kind of defensive performance is not going to take Dortmund anywhere near the title, and the manager needs to get the balance right before the next game to keep their title charge on track.

3. Bayern’s super Pressing game :

As mentioned, Dortmund’s defense were under constant threat by Bayern’s immense press throughout the match and Nico Kovac’s tactics were spot on to lead Bayern back to the top of the table. The attackint quartet of Lewandowski, Muller, Coman and Gnabry won the ball back on multiple occasions in the final third. Their quick interplay and swift interchange in position gave Dortmund no time on the ball, causing them to concede possession in vital areas of the field. Bayern’s tactics didn’t allow Witsel or Delaney to link up with Sancho, Reus or Brunn Larsen, leaving the forwards very frustrated without any service for most parts of the game.

Nico Kovac’s Bayern side now have the edge to secure their seventh straight title, but any complacency might lead to Dortmund reclaiming the top spot again as there is very little margin for error during the business end of the season. However, one thing is for sure, the Bundesliga is all set for one of its best finishes in recent years and here on 24-7 football, we will keep you updated till the last chapter of the season is written and finished off.

4 signings that could turn the fortune for Manchester United next season

Since Solskjaer took over as caretaker Manager at Old Trafford, United have looked a totally different side in contrast to what they were under Jose Mourinho , playing the brand of football that was always associated with Manchester United. Even though they have had a slump off late against Arsenal and against Wolves in the FA Cup, it is still believed that Solsjkaer is the front runner to take over the permanent job in the summer. The heroics against PSG in the Champions League adding more positives to his claim to take over the Job.
However, the recent loses against Arsenal and Wolves have indicated there are certain departments that need reinforcements and here we look at Four players who could change the fortune next season for the club if Ole was to sign them:

  1. Adrien Rabiot :

United need a Central defensive midfielder as Matic is already in his 30’s and in Rabiot , they can have someone having quite similar traits and who plays in a quite similar position for PSG which Ole has been opting regularly for United. He can even act like a deep lying playmaker, allowing the likes of Herrera and Pogba to play higher up the field.
Rabiot is a top class talent and very young, however the only problem with him could be his attitude, shown by his rejection to play for France and also a fractured relationship with PSG. But, knowing how Solsjkaer nurses young talent, this could be a fresh start for the young Frenchmen, and with his contract running out his summer, it could be a bargain for United.

2. Alex Grimaldo :

     The la Masia graduate, currently playing for Benfica , may have struggled to get into Barcelona first team, but he has now developed into one of the best young left backs in the continent. He is a versatile, technically gifted full back who can be deployed in midfield as well like David Alaba or Joshua Kimmich. Manchester United need a left back to cover up Luke Shaw , because in Ashley Young they don’t really have a specialist to compete with Shaw in the position and Grimaldo could be another astute signing for the Red Devils.

3.    Jadon Sancho :

    United have failed to have a natural right winger for many years now , with both Mata and Lingard  having tendencies to play more off the middle and drift inside. In Jadon Sancho they could have a long term solution for this problem. He has been absolutely brilliant for Borussia Dortmund this year and United could utilize the width he provides on the right side for their attacking play.
He might not come cheap, but with his immense talent and age, United could be ready to pull the trigger in the transfer market for this young English sensation. 

4. Kalidou Koulibaly :

One of the primary problems that United have failed to rectify is a world class player in defense and koulibaly could prove to be just the player they need to sort out all defensive fragilities. Considered as one of the best ball-playing center-backs in Europe, his raw pace and power make him a daunting player to go up against. He is a natural leader, always vocal on the field and can contribute in improving other players playing around him in the defensive line. At 27, he will be entering his peak years and with his experience and leadership qualities, he could prove to be an inspired United signing.

Ole’s at the wheel: Can Solskjaer get the Permanent Job?

Back in December 2018, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed the Caretaker Manager of Manchester United for the remainder of the season following the sacking of Jose Mourinho. A lot of eyebrows were raised and questions were asked about the decision by the board considering the other options that were available at that time.

This was more to do with the position the club was in at the time, with then-manager Mourinho even accepting it would be a ‘Miracle’ if United did finish in the top four as his United side trailed 4th placed Chelsea by 11 points.

Enter Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer and after an inexplicable run of Two and half months, United now find themselves just a point behind Arsenal in 4th spot and going good in the FA cup having beaten the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea already in the competition.
It is understandable now that people would want to ask him about his long term prospects at Old Trafford, and with 12 wins and two draws in his 15 games for the club, he has significantly aided his cause for the permanent managerial role.
But what are the real reasons for this turn around and can they secure him the permanent job, lets have a look:

  1. Entertaining brand of Football:

Jose Mourinho did win two trophies and lead the club to a FA Cup final in his two full seasons as the boss, but the football that was played under him according to many United fans and experts was only meant to be effective to grind results and not entertaining, which is what the club has been known for.
However, United under Ole has been all about attacking football. There is a sense of purpose every time the team attacks now. One touch passing and link up play with pace between the front three looks menacing always. The full – backs have been pushing up consistently to join up the attack, all pointing emphasis on pure attacking Football. And not just that, ever since Ole was hired, United has conceded the least number of goals than any other team in the Premier league.

               2.    Rejuvenated Players :

When Jose Mourinho left the club in December, a lot of that had to with the reports of him having lost the dressing room and players losing the motivation to play under him. But, since the arrival of Solsjkaer the buzz around Old Trafford has been more than ever and the same can be said about the dressing room. The players look rejuvenated every game and are playing with freedom that has rarely been seen since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson. With the likes of Pogba, Lukaku and Herrera publicly addressing how optimistic everyone is in the team.
It’s very apparent that the first goal of his appointment was to get a sense of positivity among the fans and the players, and he has succeeded very well. 

3. The Pogba Puzzle :

Ever since Manchester United signed Paul Pogba from Juventus for Club record fee, there were lot of speculations and question marks over him not able to justify his price tag and put in performance like he did for Juventus. A lot of that had to do with Jose not able to deploy him at his best position also restraining him from the attacking side of his play.
However, under Ole Pogba has been altogether different class. With every surging run and immaculate passing he has been in lethal form. Certain players thrive off liberty in movement and creativity and Pogba is certainly one of them. He is right up there with his goals and assists amongst the best in Europe now and he is going to play a vital role if United are to finish the season on a high leading to Ole getting the permanent job.

4. Emphasis Of Youth:

For a club marveled by the world for producing and integrating young academy players into its first team, there were not many opportunities for homegrown players under Jose Mourinho. But Solskjaer has molded himself brilliantly with the history of the club and lot of his team play depends on youth players like Rashford and Lingard , and even giving playing team to talented youngsters like Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and more recently James Garner.

In opinions of many experts and Ex United Players, Ole has already done enough to prove his capability for the permanent job. He hasmanaged to get his teams right, juggled personnel to highlight opponent’sweakness, and gained significant credit for the way he has dealt with an injurycrisis.

He is leading United with Grace and class, refusing to take anything for granted for himself or his team and all the while carrying himselfin a manner befitting a Manchester United Manager.

When he arrived there were zero expectations, but now the Permanent role is his to Lose.

Three Reasons why Liverpool failed to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford !!

Even though the importance of this fixture has dwindled in recent years , in terms of its stature at the top of Premier league , there is no two opinions that it is still the biggest club game in British football and no other rivalry comes close to the Manchester United vs Liverpool one.

The match on Sunday might have finished goalless , but it had its own share of drama and excitement even before the kick – off and Liverpool who even though sit at the top of Premier league summit will feel it was a matter of two points dropped rather than a point won looking at how the game started for the Old Trafford side with all three substitutions made within the first half hour and Striker Marcus Rashford playing a fair amount of time injured and is a doubt for his team’s next game against Crystal palace on Wednesday.

So let’s see where it all went wrong for the team from Merseyside. Here are the three possible reasons Liverpool failed to beat United:

  1. Salah’s struggle :

The fact that the reigning player of the year was substituted with 10 mins left showed how ineffective Salah was in the game against Liverpool’s arch rivals once again. He is yet to score against Manchester united and came no where close to finding the back of the net yet again.The Egyptian barely had a positive kick of the ball and was covered brilliantly by luke shaw in the wide area and was unable to find space centrally. With the most important phase of the season coming up, Salah will have to play a crucial role if Liverpool are to win the league after years of waiting.Depth of the squad:

2. Depth of the squad :

Not just United, Liverpool too had an injury blow in the first half with Roberto Firmino going out injured. Liverpool have good options from the bench but too much dependence on the front three means goals from the other areas are a big concern. Liverpool midfielders are more of runners than creators. Wijnaldum , Henderson and Fabinho are all good at occupying a major part of the field and ball control but they don’t do to their team what likes of David Silva and Eriksen do to their’s and that’s creating opening and chances. So when the front three don’t fire , their team is in trouble . And that’s exactly what happened on Sunday with firmino going out and Salah and Mane totally misfiring their weakness to score and create from other areas was exposed.

3. Low Performance Level :

       This was a massive chance for Liverpool to take a giant step towards the title and gain all three points at the top. They should have been all guns blazing: pressing, energy, movement , tempo, shots on goals from all possible angles like a Klopps team,  but sadly none of  it was on show despite the injury crisis that hit United in the first half, leaving Klopp fuming on the touchline.The fact that De Gea hardly had a save to make with a shot from firmino’s replacement sturridge their only shot on target in the 90 minutes.
Their inability to open up opposition teams who defend in numbers must be  a real concern for klopp, because they are sure to meet more sides who will do the same in next few weeks.

Next up for Liverpool it’s Watford at home, then Everton away—and from here until the end of the season, every match has become must-win.

It’s still in Liverpool’s hands, yes, but there is no further margin for error. Man City will be relentless in their pursuit, ready to pounce on any slip-ups—so any more dropped points for the Reds must, from a psychological perspective, come only after City themselves have failed to win.

There will still be another twist or two in the final stretch of games, but a win each time and the title is Liverpool’s.