Game in a Sentence

The hype fails to disappoint as Gus Johnson demonstrates his bona fides while some sort of football match between two pretty good teams was going on.


  • Sometimes the hype seamlessly interweaves into reality, and this was one such an instance. Not a classic, but an all around great game of football. Individual skill, competitive balance, adventure in attack, a great round of 16 first leg.
  • Manchester United started in a 4-2-3-1. Few surprises in the line-up, with Rooney out wide on the left, taking on a fairly positive defensive role against his opposite Cristiano Ronaldo. Kagawa was a little ineffective in the whole, Jones and Carrick paired up in front of a back four with Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans and Evra.
  • Meanwhile Real Madrid also put out a *yawn* 4-2-3-1, with Benzema up front, who was fairly quiet in the first half. Ronaldo was rampant on the left hand side, and Di Maria was the centre of a lot of creative movement and cued up Ronaldo’s goal in the 30th minute. Xabi Alonso and Khedira paired up in front of Coentrao, Ramos, Varane and Arbeloa.
  • As expected, Real Madrid were dominant, eager to exploit the space on the flanks to send some dangerous crosses in, in between various players cutting inside, not least Ronaldo. They played a high defensive line, although it was disciplined enough that Real were rarely caught on the break. Coentrao almost scored within the first ten minutes, but De Gea (more on him later) invisibly finger-tipped it to safety.
  • United meanwhile alternated between sending an early over the top ball from deep on the flanks (usually the right) to Danny Welbeck, who was very much a classic centre-forward without the muscularity, but certainly the height. He was at the centre of a most of United’s attacks, including the set-piece corner in which he headed in Rooney’s cross in the 20th minute. He was eager to chase over-the-top passes again and again.
  • That said, Varane was very effective at playing the last man when he needed to.
  • But really, this is all window dressing. Because when future generations discuss this game, it will be because it was the first major European fixture called by Gus Johnson. And? He was splendid. Kept the game at a simmer, imported the best of American game commentary, and maintained appropriate cadences with no discernible gaffes (outside of saying the words “Santiago Bernebeu” about 400 times.
  • Oezil is a bloody maniac. Incredible control, particularly in the second half. And Rooney seemed to play deeper and deeper. Fancies himself a modern day deep-lying playmaker, I guess? United in general played deeper, likely content to squeak out the 1-1 result. Phil Jones in particularly was kind of brutal defending on occasion. As in, he acted like a brute.
  • De Gea I think is a lot better than a lot of us realize. So many saves. Shots on target against United was around seven but the 80th minute mark.
  • As the second half progressed, United were content to sit deep, and were very good at containing any attacking movement in their own box. That and De Gea was outstanding. Did I write that? I did. Still, United were willing to go forward when the opportunity presented itself. Robin Van Persie miss-kicked on an essentially open net after hitting the bar in the 71st minute and Giggs missed a pretty good chance in the 81st, taking some slow touches because he’s an old man, a careful old man who’s seen things in his life, you know?
  • There were some chances on both ends at the dying stages of extra time, both from Ronaldo and Robin van Persie. And then referee Felix Brych blew the whistle before United could take their final corner, which upset everyone.
  • Surely this is as good a result as Sir Alex could have hoped for. Very well-poised for a victory at Old Trafford.
  • Three Stars

    1. De Gea
    2. Di Maria
    3. Welbeck

Comments (39)

  1. “He was splendid” link doesn’t work…. :(

  2. It was a good match, United’s defensive positioning, especially in the second half, was encouraging.

    The ref was pretty shite, ending the game on a corner was ridiculous. Oh well, it was a good result nonetheless.

    • Agreed. The RvP yellow was pretty weak. So was Valencia’s- consiedering Ramos himself dealt the best elbow-to-the head of the match on Jones (or possibly Evans?). Am I a bad person for wanting to see someone actually deliver an elbow to Ramos?

      • Meh, I don’t with physical harm on anyone, but I would hate to see how he would deal with actual meaningful contact.

        Ramos has always been a twat, what he did tonight isn’t really surprising.

  3. Di Maria scored? Really? What fucking game was I watching?

    • I don’t know and frankly I couldn’t give a damn either way.

      • Lmfao. I’m pretty sure I’m the editor of this site. Oh, it’s you, Richard? Hmmmmm

      • What are you going on about mate?

        • It’s fixed now. Richard originally had Di Maria scoring for Madrid.

          • But he does have Di Maria listed as second star, with Welbeck third for some completely asinine reason. Not like Ronaldo scored on/played great against his old team, or Coentrao or Ozil didn’t play better than Welbeck for sure and probably Di Maria too.

            But, ya know, ENGLAND!

          • Keep grinding that axe Dan.

  4. Excellent effort from United, but… I don’t know, still not sold. I’m picking 2-1 Madrid in the return leg.

  5. All i want to hear is a certain ‘DIDIER DROGBA’ comment ON HOW MADRID WILL ROLL OVER UNITED and all that…

    • He’s probably hiding under his bridge!

    • If De Gea didn’t save Utd’s asses, Real would’ve done just that.

      Back Madrid to get two goals in Manchester and win the tie.

      • … and if my auntie had balls, she’d be my uncle. But she doesn’t. And she isn’t. And Real did not do just that.

      • Yes Madrid had more of the ball and looked more dangerous and more chances and all that…BUT IT IS 1-1, and an away goal.
        There will be more goals in the return leg, but to say Madrid will get two goals just coz, is naive.
        Madrid is going to be playing AT OLD TRAFFORD and not some lower teams home ground. And if you want to remind me of the last time Madrid came to United and beat them, please dont, that was history and THIS IS THE PRESENT.
        The fact that people were claiming that Madrid will have a field day at the expense of United defence is stupid. people need to understand formations, tactics, and other speicifcs of the game rather than look at the starting eleven team sheets and provide analysis

      • If the ref had’ve sent off Varane for his foul on Evra things might’ve been different as well. Or, you know, let United take their corner at the end.

      • Oh yeah, because United didn’t have any good chances during the match right? RVP didn’t hit the crossbar, Xabi Alonso didn’t save another RVP shot off the line, Welbeck didn’t miss a good cross in the first half? Both teams had fantastic chances to win, but to say Madrid were by far the better side and deserved to win is exaggerating by lot to say the least.

        • It is pretty convenient that those chances you mentioned for United aren’t brought up.

          Both sides had their chances and some poor finishing from United (you would have backed Van Persie to score his second big chance) and some excellent goal keeping from De Gea should make for an excellent game at Old Trafford.

        • Of course Utd had chances. Did I say they didn’t?

          But Real, plain and simple, played better. They created better opportunities, had more possession, dominated midfield, and tested the keeper not only more often, but with better quality. Score is 1-1, I just think people who look at a tie like this, see that Utd got an away goal and say “Oh, it’s advantage United” are naive. Whose goals count more in the second leg? Or if it’s 1-1 at full time and an extra 30 are needed? Real may not have gotten the W, but they certainly have the advantage. Having Pepe in the back 4 will be a big boost to them as well, assuming he can stay on the field for the duration…

          • Real do not have the advantage. If the tie ended now, Man United would advance.

          • But the tie doesn’t end now, so Man U did not just do that. A goal scored now by Real is worth more than a goal scored by Man U. Tell me how that isn’t an advantage?

            Always hated the away goals rule, but if you start the tie at home and manage to get a result, I think you’re always the favourite to progress.

          • Here`s the thing. Real Madrid NEED to score. Man U do not. Hence advantage Man U. Real will be forced to press for a goal from the onset, and Ferguson will know that. He will structure his team to provide the best defense necessary. Real on the other hand goes in with the mindset of attack. This is Real`s only chance to win something, what with Barcelona winning everything else in the league. They will attack and they will make mistakes, which is the motus operandi of Real this year. Man U will pounce on those mistakes and hopefully have their shooting boots on this time.

      • “Would have done just that” is kind of key. Madrid didn’t. And Didier Drogba unlike you, who usually makes pretty readable comments, DD is a douche bag who deserves to have the shit he throws around here thrown back in his face at any opportunity.

        Should Madrid win the tie, which obviously they still could, I guarantee you he will be back her in FULL ALL CAPS GLORY, so I’m revelling just a little bit in the fact that he hasn’t commented yet.

  6. I think you’re overstating how entertaining this game was. Sure, the first half was great, but the second half was pretty bland – neither team had much ambition and the best play to be seen was in Man U’s resolute (see: yawn inducing) defense. It might have come close to being a ‘classic’ if Van Persie hadn’t fluffed the best chance of the game but no matter, the second legs of these ties are always more entertaining anyway.

  7. What was Di Maria doing leaving the post? Not sure why he went to stand behind Lopez since any shot that got past him was probably gonna beat Di Maria.

    • My thoughts exactly. If he stays where he was supposed to stay, Welbeck doesn’t score on that corner.

      • Seeing as United has scored almost 20 goals, I think, via header, the only explanation is Di Maria fucked up his positioning terribly.

        • Meant to say here that there’s no way they didn’t spend hours upon hours preparing for crosses in given how often Utd has scored via header.

  8. The ref was out of his mind today. I still remember him from the Barca vs Arsenal match at camp nou a while go where he sent Van Persie off for not having super hearing. AKA not kicking the ball out of play when the whistle blew.

    And I was suppose to be surprised that the first person booked today was RvP.

    Someone get that man away from football forever.

  9. Oh I love the shit I get on these three stars. Check Di Maria’s individual stats, his awareness in creating chances.

    • And i’m guessing Welbeck’s contribution was also of a world-class calibre, rather than his taking advantage of a certain 2nd star’s poor positioning defending a set piece?

      1. De Gea
      2. Ronaldo
      3. Ozil

      • Welbeck had far more utility than the goal. I already praised Oezil up the wazoo, but despite his ability to hold up the ball well in the second half, he didn’t influence play as much as the others mentioned.

  10. wow, I haven’t seen this much bitching since the last round of MessNaldo debating.

    No mention of the ovation for Giggs coming on at the SB? As much as I hate 90% of the real team their fans are all class man. They understand the game deeply. Between this and the Ronaldinho ovation a few years ago you have to give them props. Hopefully their team will start to play to the level the fans deserve.

    (sorry, guess we can’t mention every little thing in a 1 page match recap. and it really didn’t have anything to do with the run of play. just wanted to bitch)

  11. MID-AFTERNOON (EST) AND STILL NO SIGN OF DIDIER DROGBA. If ManU beat Barcelona, maybe he’ll go away forever.

    • Man U? Beat Barca?


      They have tried that a few times in recent years and failed…the gap in skill has only increased since then. I think if one team is going to stop Barca from winning it this year, it will be Dortmund.

  12. wait didnt chelsea beat barca last year in champs league chelsea a team that finished sixth in premier league what short memories people have if chelsea can any one left in the round of 16 can remember celtic?

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