The second and final installment of the set of group games in the 2018/2019 UEFA Champions League has been played across Europe yesterday night. There are a lot of terrible performances and shocking results, while some other teams put in their shift to produce a decent result. All sixteen (16) teams that will proceed to the round of 16 knockout stages have now been confirmed across all the 8 groups in the Champions League. Many of the teams that have already qualified prior to last night’s match rested many of their key players and gave chances to their fringe players to have some playing time.
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United side traveled to Spain in their last Group H match yesterday night to play against Valencia at the Mestalla stadium. Although Manchester United had already qualified into the next round of 16 phase and Valencia has been confirmed their exit from the UEFA Champions League and gained automatic entry into the UEFA Europa League, it was still a much-contested game. Even though not much was at stake, Manchester United had the chance – although very slim – to top and finish as the winner of Group H if they had only defeated Valencia and Swiss club Young Boys had managed to pull out a surprise victory over Italian giants Juventus – which they eventually did.
Here, we look at 4 talking points from Manchester United’s disgraceful performance in Spain last night as we look forward to the much anticipated and crucial match against bitter English rival Liverpool at the Anfield stadium on Sunday evening.
1. Terrible, Terrible Phil Jones
Phil Jones put in a very disappointing and dismal performance yesterday night against Valencia at the Mestalla stadium. Phil Jones was directly involved in the two goals that Valencia scored against Manchester United last night. Phil Jones headed down a cross from the right wing to provide an assist for Barragan Soler to score Valencia’s first goal of the night inside just 17-minutes of football. Phil Jones himself scored the second goal for Valencia with an own-goal after he was put under pressure by Valencia striker Michy Batshuayi. Phil Jones has now scored a total of 5 own-goals during has Manchester United career.
2. Lukaku lacks basic control
Belgian international striker Romelu Lukaku has been in a disappointing form this season for Manchester United. He has not in any way lived up to the big money paid to acquire his services from Everton about two years ago. Romelu Lukaku needs to urgently work on his first touches as he is always let down by his lack of basic ball control skills. Lukaku’s poor ball control is sometimes responsible for killing or delaying United’s tempo and attacks in the final third of the pitch and needs to quickly improve if Manchester United are to have any hope or chance of finishing in the top 4 of the premier league this season.
3. Paul Pogba dilemma
Seeing Paul Pogba miss a great goal-scoring opportunity from as close as 6-yards yesterday was definitely a harrowing and frustrating experience for Manchester United fans. Paul Pogba gave the ball away cheaply on several occasions and his performance was sub-par. It is visibly obvious that the young French world cup winner is not in his best form and has been producing some inconsistent performances for Manchester United this season.
4. Is Fred the worst Summer signing?
New summer signing Fred has failed to live up to the huge £50million Manchester United paid to Schalke 04 for his acquisition early this season. The Brazilian footballer was dubbed the “next big thing” when Manchester United signed in from Ukrainian club Schalke 04 in the summer, but Fred has not lived up to the hype for Manchester United. Since Fred joined United, he has not started and played the full 90-minutes in a champions league game. Fred has not played in any United game that he performed so well that we can confidently say “Fred is a good player and an incredible summer signing”. Fred has not been able to replicate the incredible form he was in Schalke 04 that convinced Manchester United to pay heavily for his services.
Jose Mourinho decided to rest some of his key players so that they can fresh and ready for the crucial premier league game against arch-rivals Liverpool at Anfield stadium on Sunday evening. Let us hope the players can turn on their performance against the league leaders, Liverpool on Sunday and put in an impressive performance to keep the hope of a top 4 finish alive.
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