Memorable Matches – FC Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United

After the international break becoming baron when discussing relevent football, let’s talk about matches from the past. Games that will never be forgotten in the minds of the fans who watched. Let’s start with a game that I even remember watching at a younger age. The second encounter in two years between Sir Alex’s United, and Pep’s treble winning Barcelona. Both sides previously played each other in the 2009 champions league final, also remembered as Ronaldo’s final game for the club. The game was quite close, but incredible games from both Xavi and Messi put Barcelona over the line. This game was the rematch, which would hopefully see Fergie finally land the victory over Pep. But we all know that is not what happened. So let’s get into it.

United’s great first 10 minutes

Let’s start with by far United’s best moment. Ferguson’s plan was to use both Park and Valencia to deal with the full backs and midfielders. Park would drop deep to stop Alves from making any as advancing runs. Valencia and Park are both incredibly good at tracking back and helping their full backs. It was a classic Ferguson move. He always liked to play players, like Park, in these big games to help nullify the opponent. United played a classic 4-4-2, with Giggs and Carrick in midfield. Their other approach to deal with their midfield disadvantage was to bring one of the wingers inside depending on which side Barcelona were playing. For example, if the ball was on the side of Pedro and Abidal, Valencia would put pressure on them, while Park would come into midfield to limit the effect of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets. Both Rooney and Hernandez had very important roles. Rooney had to keep on Busquets. The defensive midfielder is so important in how Barcelona build up play. He is one is able to receive the ball and pick out a further advanced player, to help with possession. Rooney at times helped with this (we’ll get to why it didn’t work later) and Hernandez kept pressure on the back two of Pique and Mascherano. This worked so well for the first 10-15 minutes, but we will now get to why this didn’t exactly work.

A Xavi Masterclass

I constantly love to compliment midfielders. Whether it has been my constant defense of Paul Pogba, my praise for Luka Modric, my love for Vidal’s all round excellence, or the many memories I have of Paul Scholes. Xavi is better than all of the above. I fondly remember watching him, and his Barcelona teammates majestically move around the pitch and win 3 international trophies back to back. I do not think there will ever be a better player than Xavi in the middle of the park. His incredible ability at transitioning play, finding space and retaining possession will never be beaten. He was at his mesmerising best in this game. When Busquets was having a limited effect in the first half, Xavi would drop incredibly deep to receive the ball. He would usually then recycle the ball back to the centre halves, until there was space available to advance play. When Xavi dropped this deep, it left Rooney and Hernandez with a difficult decision, either stick with their role, and leave Xavi to retain possession, or try and deal with Xavi, but not full commit to the game plan. It left United chasing the game, because they failed to deal with the change that one player made. Xavi is the one who won the game for Barcelona. His dismantling of United’s plan is the reason why they cruised the game. He was recieving the ball all over the field, and he was just so good at helping Barcelona get the ball in dangerous areas. It was easily one of the best midfield performances you will ever see.

Messi at his best

If Xavi was the captain of the destruction of United’s approach, Messi was the first mate. Messi as a player as evolved dramatically since his long haired teenaged days at the Camp Nou. He began as a right winger, using his pace and dribbling ability to assist Eto’o and Ronaldinho in their dazzling displays in the final third. However Pep saw something else in him, being his ability at finding space. Messi under Pep was easily one of the hardest players to deal with when defending. If the centre backs chose to track him, it would leave space wide open in the back for one of Villa or Pedro to exploit. But if a midfielder chose to track him, it would leave the midfield disjointed. United had this similar problem. It seemed Carrick was the one with the responsibility to deal with Messi. Like the rest of the side, it was fine for the first 10 minutes. Messi didn’t have much of an involvement near the start of the game. But then the Argentine just dropped deeper and deeper, until Carrick couldn’t follow. That was the point where Messi was at his most deadliest. While many will call Messi an excellent dribbler and goal scorer. His best attribute will always be his ability to find space to receive the ball, which would bring the rest of the team into play. There is a reason why Pep told Messi to never receive the ball in the 18 yard box, because he knew exactly how good of a false nine Messi was. Throughout the game you would see Messi drop near enough in his own half, receive the ball, and just run at United. It worked so often and he was untouchable throughout the game. What helped massively was United’s inability to keep up with Barcelona. Their tireless running, aggression and high energy game was really taking its effect as the game went on, by the hour mark, United had zero legs to stand. Barcelona had that much control of the game, that United would never be able to get back into it. Messi and Barcelona were excellent in just waiting for this moment, and really made them suffer.

To conclude, this game was a huge turning point. It was the first time Sir Alex would look at a game and even admit that there was nothing he could do. While their first encounter in Rome was closer in pure ability of the players on the pitch, the rematch was not. United didn’t have the furocious front line of Tevez, Ronaldo and Rooney anymore. Fergie’s magic still brought the best of the aging and average talent throughout the squad, but there was a limit to this. Pep’s team and squad was of such a high standard that any line up Fergie put out on the day, would not have won the game. It was the first time I ever saw Sir Alex get completely outclassed on a tactical level.

It was a high point for his opponent however. This victory ensured that this team of players would go down as one of the best teams to ever play the game (and the best in my opinion). Every player in that team was at their peak, and worked so well together to produce a team that few were ever able to beat. It’s still the team that Pep is trying to equal in achievement and style. A game where the old was beaten by the new, in such a dominant display, and that is why this is a memorable match.

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5 talking points from Manchester United vs Everton

Another game, another 4-0 victory. United are on fire right now so let’s look at all the talking points from Sunday’s game

Pogba was missed

This was the first premier league game of the season where our french maestro was unavailable, and it showed. United lacked any sort of creativity through the midfielders, Matic and Fellaini. I am not saying they performed poorly, in fact the opposite. Both Matic and Fellaini were brilliant. Matic controlled the game brilliantly and Fellaini was brilliant in his own way, winning 3 aerial duels and making 3 interceptions. I thought both of them contributed brilliantly in defence, but didn’t contribute enough going forward. Everton have a poor defence so their partnership can be excused in this case, but against a team like Burnley or West Brom, a more creative midfielder will be needed.

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THAT goal from Valencia

A goal that is worth mentioning. Valencia was never a goalscorer for United, in fact the last home goal he scored was before Mourinho was even in charge. But for a moment it was like a young rooney was playing again. The Ecuadorian hit the ball perfectly from the right side. This will easily be remembered as one of the goals of the season, with the goal giving us and advantage against a very defensive team that just began the game sitting back and showing no ambition to attack.

Lukaku’s reunion

This was the big Belgian’s first game against his former club, and he marked the occasion by scoring and celebrating, as he should. Lukaku had no reason not to celebrate. He is a young guy and was at the club for roughly 100 games. It might seem like a lot but that was his fourth club in his short. Lukaku seems like a player who doesn’t get attached to a club. It isn’t like the Van Persie or Frank Lampard situation, where they played for Arsenal and Chelsea respectively for most of their careers. Lukaku said he celebrated because the Everton fans were mocking him for missing a free kick, which makes his goal even sweeter.

Importance of our Armenian 

Mhiki is continuingly showing why he is the incarnation of Mourinho on a pitch, starts slow but needs time to show why he’s one of the best. To me Mhiki is one of the most underrated players in the league. People seem to forget he plays for the club because he didn’t feature that prominently last season. Mhiki so far has scored 1 and assisted 6, which is just ridiculous. I think he’s been our best player so far this season next to Matic. Many complain about him losing the ball and while it might be frustrating, it’s because he is running at players. I want the players to be ambitious, and if it could end up with a goal, it is worth the risk. Let’s hope he keeps up his incredible form and even scores more throughout this season.

Everton not performing

Many are already asking for Koeman to leave, and i can understand why. Looking at Everton’s signings now, you can see they signed too many midfielders and didn’t get enough pace in the team. They are seemingly relying on an ageing Rooney and a very average player in Sandro. They’re playing a 3-4-3 with poor wingbacks. Martina is just not very good and Baines is now starting to show is age. Compare them to Chelsea for instance. They player Alonso and Moses, two wingers with an incredible workrate. Everton should have players similar to them if they want to play this system. They had a poor showing against Chelsea, Spurs and United, and their next game against Bournemouth, will be a sign to Everton fans what their situation is.

Analyzing the top 7 in the EPL

With the new season looking even more competitive than the last. Let’s view each team’s situation nearing the start of the season, and predicting where they will finish this season. It’ll be in order from where they finished last season.

Chelsea

Chelsea have been a real mixed bag in the transfer market. On one hand, they’ve signed some good players in Rudiger, Bakayoko and Morata. But on the other hand, they’ve let so many players go and still haven’t addressed some of their biggest issues. Chelsea needed 2 centre backs, 1 wing back on each side and 2 midfielders. They have not addressed their full back area in the slightest. Chelsea haven’t prepared for the extra games that will be played in Europe. Moses and Alonso cannot play 50 games, they will need a break at points. What makes it worse is the players they sold. Pushing Diego Costa, one of the best strikers in the world, away from the club and replacing him with a striker Chelsea spent a lot of money on. Selling Matic to United, although a great move on United’s side, was a terrible decision on Chelsea’s part. They’re starting the new season with only 2 fit midfielders, with Bakayoko out till October. But the players who I was most furious at Chelsea for letting go was Chalobah, Ake and Traore. These three players were academy graduates of the club, and were hoping to finally be given a chance by the manager. But the club decided to sell these academy players, players who would of been able to play a part in the club and cost nothing. As a united fan who believes in giving youth a chance, it does hurt to see a club of Chelsea’s size disregarding players from their so called top academy. Because of all these reasons listed, this will be a difficult season for Chelsea, showing a clear downgrade from last season, with the possibility of Conte getting the sack.

Predicted Position: 7th

Spurs

This has been a quiet summer for the lilly whites. Besides selling Kyle Walker, they have engaged in zero business this summer, and they have no need to. Their clear priority was to keep hold of their best players, and with only a 27 year old full back being the casualty, they’ve done good this summer. They have something that no other team has. Stability. They are at a good stage right now and want to use more of their youth. They just need to ensure that they use all their players at their disposal. They have a deep squad full of quality, and if the likes of Kane, Alli and Eriksen can stay fit, they should have a good season. I don’t believe Wembley will be a huge issue for them, eventually their fans and the players will adapt. It will have no effect on their season overrall.

Predicted Position: 3rd

Manchester City

While Spurs had no need to add to their squad, Man city had plenty to add and sell to their talented squad. They began by signing Ederson and Bernardo Silva for a combined £78m, and that was only the beginning. Man city then went to fix their fullback area by spending £122m on Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo. Many have complained about their insane spending here but it makes sense. Pep even said that they haven’t bought new fullbacks for years and all this sudden spending makes up for years of not buying new defenders. After their spree of spending, they have definitely turned themselves back into title favourites. They’ve finally bought fullbacks that Pep can trust and added more to that insanely talented attack. But they still have some issues that signings might not be able to fix. That defense, mainly at centre back, still isn’t good enough unless Kompany is playing. He’s became famous for having very dodgy knees, meaning he can’t play a full season anymore. Another issue that they share with their rivals is their lack of ability to kill a game off. Whether it’s Pep or his players, their were some big games where they failed to kill a game off. 3 come to mind, at home against Chelsea, away against Monaco and against Arsenal in Wembley. They struggled to take their lead to a point where they could sit back. They let Monaco and Chelsea back in the game when they had complete control. Even with these issues, I can see their big squad having a good season next season. A team with De Bruyne, Silva, Aguero and Jesus cannot be underestimated in the slightest.

Predicted Position: 2nd

Liverpool

Liverpool just about got into that top four, and will be looking to stay there. Last season they were able to play their fast pressing style because they only had one game to prepare for. They could play the same team every week because of their lack of games. But with the extra game it’ll give Klopp more to think about. If they don’t buy Van Dijk, then it’ll be a bad summer for them. Adding Salah, Solanke and Robertson are good for squad depth, but without some options in defense, they will struggle this season. Currently they don’t have enough defenders to be able to put out a difference defense each game. Like Chelsea, their squad still hasn’t got enough depth, and even though they have kept their best players, unlike Chelsea. They still need more a few squad players and a good midfielder and centre back. But if I was a Liverpool fan, I’d still put plenty of faith in Klopp. He’s a manager, like Mourinho and Ferguson, who can get the absolute most out of his players. He just has to ensure that he doesn’t burn these guys out. He has a young squad and must ensure these players last. I do think with Liverpool will get champions league. With a good manager and other team’s circumstances, they should be fine next season and build upon what they’ve done last season.

Predicted Position: 4th

Arsenal

Oh Arsenal. I don’t like talking about a team that still isn’t a threat and that hasn’t even added much to their squad but still, let’s discuss. After 2 years of chasing, they finally signed Lacazette. He will be an instant improvement on what they have already. He is more mobile than Giroud and doesn’t have the injuries of Danny Welbeck. It seems that they are keeping Sanchez which of course is a huge boost for them. But what all these idiotic Arsenal fans aren’t considering is Europa League. As a united fan watching his team crawl to the trophy, it takes so much out of you. I keep hearing arsenal fans wanting to bottle the competition but I wouldn’t recommend that. The top four is becoming increasingly difficult to get, so if Arsenal can win a European competition for the first time and get champions league football, it’ll be a good season. But that will involve them struggling in the league.

Predicted Position: 5th

Manchester United

I’m definitely speaking from a biased perspective, but I’m backing my team for the title, and I have some good reasons. The first would be Jose’s second season syndrome. Every team he’s managed has always won the title in its second season, because the players learn his system and that second summer always helps. Second, our signings. Even though I think there will still be another player coming, we’ve done some excellent business this summer. Taking Lukaku from Chelsea was genius, getting Lindelof early was ideal, and getting Matic from one of your rivals was perfect. All these players improve our squad in some way, especially Matic and Lukaku. Matic allows Pogba and Herrera to express themselves more and Lukaku adds a more clinical nature to the team as well as a strong pacey forward. And finally no more Europa league. With us playing in the elite competition stops us from travelling to these insanely distant countries on pitches that aren’t at the top level. And especially no more Thursday night football. It lets the players rest for longer in anticipation for the weekend. Last season we should have challenged, but our focus went further away from the league as the season went on. But this time Mourinho will have full focus on the league, and a focused Mourinho is unstoppable.

Predicted Position: 1st

Everton

It might seem strange to consider Everton a real threat to the big clubs, but with their increased funds and a real manager, they have to be considered a threat. Their main priority was to deal with Lukaku and Barkley, two increasing personalities at the club. They dealt with this by selling Lukaku to United and Koeman telling the press that Barkley has no future. Thn they had to prove that they are a threat, by spending some serious cash. They took the young Michael Keane and Pickford, fixing two issues they’ve had for a while, then buying Ajax captain Davy Klassen. And to add more to the squad , they bought ex Barcelona player Sandro for a bargain £5m and bagging Rooney on a free, and they are still spending, with the Toffees trying to tempt Swansea’s magician Siggurdsson for £50m. Everton have made themselves a threat, and now with a deep squad of talented young players. The only way is up for Everton.

Manchester United vs West Brom Match Preview

Even though it might not seem like it, these are the games where we can see if teams deserve success, and with Manchester United without 6 key players, 3 being starting midfielders, we then see a problem United have to overcome. United can survive without Fellaini, we can survive with Rooney, we can cope without Pogba, but we struggle without Herrera. The only starting midfielder we have in reality is Carrick, and no matter how much i want to see Blind or Fosu in defensive midfield, i just don’t see it, mainly because of the injuries we have in defense as well. Blind will be needed in defense, but Fosu has a chance, albeat a small chance, it could be his chance to prove to Mourinho he should be considered as an important first team player. It’s a shame we have to play West Brom at this time, because any other day, I’d say United would easily win this. But because of West Brom’s strength at set pieces and 4 of our taller players unable to play, we have a problem. We saw last weekend how brilliant West Brom are at set pieces, so United need to be aware and have our best players on those taller players like McAuley and Dawson.

Even though we might falter in defense, the final third is where we’ll shine. We have most of our forward players available for this game, and they’ll be very important. Last time we played the baggies, we used Lingard’s pace and width to hurt their back four, and it’ll have to be the same strategy. If we play Mata for his intelligence on one side, Lingard or Mhikitaryan for their pace in attacking midfield and right midfield respectively. There will never be a day when i say United will lose, so I’ll go for the win. But barely.

Prediction: Manchester United 2:1 West Brom

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

Before I talk about the match. I just want to address two things and i feel should be addressed about two players in Manchester United squad

Paul Pogba

Let’s make some things clear about Paul Pogba. Paul Pogba is only 23, he still has plenty of time to mature as a midfielder and the most important thing for him right now is to adapt to the league, and for Mourinho to get the best out of him. Paul Pogba is not going to score and assist in every game. He is a midfielder. They do more than score goals and assist. They control the game and make sure the ball flows through to the final third. And finally, Paul Pogba’s price tag means nothing. Manchester United have paid over a billion to the Glazer’s and no one says a word about that. Money means nothing now. If a club wants a player that will benefit their team, they get them. And that’s what Pogba does. He gives our midfield more movement. It was seen last season how poor our midfield was, and he’s given it more energy and movement.

Chris Smalling

If I could choose a player to get rid of this summer, it would be Chris Smalling. This season he has returned to his typical clumsy self. Last season was a fluke and an illusion. Smalling was seen last season to be a great centre back, even one of the best in the league, and that is simple to explain. Van Gaal played a very cautious style of football, giving Smalling a simple role because of the lack of threat other teams usually posed against us. We also had two defensive midfielders in front of the defence, so we nullified the threat. Smalling never had much to do, and if he made a mistake there would be someone (Daily Blind) there to recover the ball. Daily Blind maked Smalling look like a competent centre half. Anyways, to the game.

The Game

Manchester​ United only had one fit striker for this game, with Zlatan suspended and Martial and Rooney injured. It was up to local lad, Marcus Rashford, and when you look at Chelsea’s defense and style of play, he was perfect for this game. Chelsea can only be beaten by two ways, either by crosses into the box (like Spurs did), or by pure pace, like we were trying to do. Originally Rashford wasn’t going to play because of illness, and watching him play you have to instantly question that claim. Rashford ran a marathon last night, waiting for one of those centre backs to make a mistake and give him the chance to score. You can’t fault Rashford’s effort through out the game. He showed our desire and passion we needed in a game like that. It reminded everyone that Mourinho doesn’t just ignore youth, because we are seeing profession this season under Rashford. The reason I began to talk about Rashford was because he perfectly epitomised the positives of United. The players showed fight, desire and passion for the shirt. I would of been very unhappy if i saw those players roll over and not put up a fight, but I’m not angry at all. We went down with dignity against a team that was much better than us and even going down to 10 men, we still kept it strong at the back and kept patient. Speaking of 10 men, Herrera’s sending off was a disgrace. It only took some great acting from Eden Hazard to persuade the referee Herrera should be given his matching orders. Before that, United were well and truly in the game. But as soon as Mhikitaryan was substituted for Fellaini everyone watching knew the hard work the defence would need to do to keep it 0-0. And for the most part, they did a great job, Rojo, Jones and Valencia especially. Rojo showed that aggression and bite we all love to see from the Argentine. It was clear his role was to try and push Costa the wrong way, literally and mentally. Costa looking angry and frustrated was a once in a lifetime this season. Conte clearly took that side out of him, but Mourinho knew it his anger never left, and only took some aggression from Rojo to get on his bad side. Rojo’s partner in crime, Phil Jones, was another who has an amazing game. Eden Hazard is a difficult player to man mark, and Phil Jones did a great job trying to neutralise the threat. Like I said, Eden Hazard is hard player to mark, because of his constant movement and his quick actions when the ball is near his feet. It was seen what he can do when Smalling ran out to pressure Hazard and was caught out, resulting in Hazard making a run at goal. Phil Jones wasn’t as reckless, which is something I’m not used to saying about the young defender. Valencia had another great game, but this time defensively, mostly that tackle to stop Costa (i think) from having a shot on goal. 

Chelsea played their best eleven and Kante was still their stand out player, like in every game, even scoring against us again. Hazard, even though I’m disgusted by his constant diving, was brilliant on the day, and was the real difference maker for Chelsea. Costa was not great on the day, missing an easy chance, and Willian was very quiet, not having much of an impact. Defensively i still don’t understand how a defense with Gary Cahill is keeping this many clean sheets, but it just shows how great David Luis and Aspeliqueta has been this season.

Even though I’m not happy we lost. I can at least appreciate the right and desire. I hope we see more of this later on under Mourinho. Next stop, Top 4 and a Europa league


Top 4 most Overrated Players In Europe

There are some players in the world of football that gain more credit than they deserve, usually surrounded by other teammates who gain all the praise, these players have lived off the success of others or have lived off one successful season. Here are 4 players who have done this:

1. Jordi Alba

FIFA players believe Jordi Alba to be a good full back, but that seriously isn’t the case. Alba is very quick, and because of that, it makes people believe he is a good fullback at going forward and defensively. It isn’t true in the slightest. Alba is lucky he had been surrounded with amazing players like Busquets and Iniesta, players who make him look much better than he truly is. Sergi Roberto, a make shift right back, is easily a much better full back than Alba. He has lived off the success of players like Pique, Iniesta and Masherano. He shouldn’t be near a team like Barcelona.

2. Andre Gomes

Andre Gomes is simply here because he was the worst player in that Barcelona team and the worst signing of the summer transfer window. After signings like James Rodriguez and Paul Pogba, I have changed my view on money in football. If a player adds something special to your team no one else can then he is worth any amount of money. Barcelona spent over €60m on a player who doesn’t add anything different to that team. On paper you’d think he’d be there to replace Iniesta, because Iniesta isn’t getting any younger, but Iniesta adds something going forward, Gomes doesn’t, he barely creates a key pass a game compared to the amount Iniesta creates. Is he there to replace Ivan Rakitic? Rakitic is a brilliant midfielder, who offers so much in the final third. He gives Barcelona an extra bite in the opposition box and something on the counter attack. Gomes doesn’t give that either. He isn’t a direct player like Rakitic. So the question is, why did Barca spend so much money on a player that doesn’t fit in their team in any way? And it’s showing. He has been appauling. Both Alba and Gomes were awful against PSG. Just reminding everyone how poor they both are in an otherwise brilliant team.

3. John Stones

I still do not understand why this guy was bought by anyone. I still believe that he will be a great defender and yes he has great passing ability for a defender. But to be a defender you need to defend well, and that’s where he fails. He is the most expensive English player and the 2nd most expensive defender. It shocked me that City actually bought him for so much, an unfinished product that can barely defend. I do sympathise for the lad in some aspects. He is surrounded by incompetent defenders in Gail Clichy and Kolorov. But he isn’t proving me wrong. He still is poor position wise and still doesn’t know when to pass the ball and when to kick it into row Z. Decision making will improve over time but he’s playing under a manager who is against kicking a ball out of play. John Stones was bought for his passing and not for his defending. If he stayed at Everton I do believe Koeman would fix the problem he has. So why is he overrated if I sympathise for him? Well because he is still the starter for his team who can barely defend. Eric Bailly is the same age and he is a real centre back. Sule has signed for Bayern and he looks phenomenal. They are all the same age as John Stones so I do expect better from him. But I do believe he will improve.

4. The England National Team

John Stones will not be mentioned here at all because he plays well for England. But damn people just always hype this team before every tournament and they have always disappointed. The manager can definitely be blamed. Roy Hodgson was awful and should never of been picked. But when Gareth Southgate, the man who got Boro relegated, is just telling me how hard that job must be. The team has definitely got the quality, but it doesn’t play like a team. The best comparison to a team that does play like a team would be Germany. 5 of their best XI were playing together at youth level. The likes of Kroos, Hummels, Khedira and Muller all played together so they could play as a team. England do not do that. They try and fit as many superstars as possible in the team but it doesn’t work like that. You need the players to play well together first and foremost. The likes of Wilshire and Rooney shouldn’t be near that England team. Players like Stones, Dier, Alli and Kane have to play together constantly to understand each other, so it will at least give the team a spine. There also needs to be a relationship between the manager and the youth team. The younger players need to be incorporated in that squad for the future.