Istanbul Basaksehir – Manchester United was another bad day at the office for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as the Red Devils were upset by the Turkish minnows in the UEFA Champions League.
Demba Ba and Edin Visca put the hosts 2-0 up and although Anthony Martial hit back before the break, they couldn’t find a way to break down a stubborn side competing in their first-ever UCL group stage campaign.
Manchester United still look set to make it out of Group H after their wins against PSG and RB Leipzig, but this result still goes down as a huge shock and piles more pressure on Solskjaer.
Here’s a look at three things we learned from the upset in Turkey in Istanbul Basaksehir – Manchester United.
1. Defensive spacing a shambles
The defending on the Demba Ba goal was shocking, as United were caught cold and I’m struggling to remember a goal like that. They had the ball on the edge of the Basaksehir box after playing a short corner, but inexplicably left Demba Ba all on his own on the halfway line and one long ball found him and he raced in on goal and finished. It really was as easy as that.
🤯 Just look at the state of this defending. How can you leave Demba Ba totally unmarked on the halfway line like that?
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) November 4, 2020
United’s defending on the second goal wasn’t much better, as poor old Juan Mata was tasked with tracking back as another Basaksehir counter stretched the United defene. Axel Tuanzebe, so good against PSG, was bullied by veteran forward Demba Ba and Aaron Wan-Bissaka was caught out often defensively. Nemanja Matic failed to provide a defensive shield in a 4-1-3-2 formation as Solskjaer once again tinkered with his lineup and that led to confused, chaotic and shambolic defending. There were too many moment where Man United looked very stretched.
2. Slick attack the only positive with balance lacking
Man United started well as Luke Shaw flashed a cross into a dangerous error which somehow evaded the onrushing United forwards. Anthony Martial then had a shot well-blocked before he headed home and United did create plenty of chances, with Bruno Fernandes going close in the second half twice. Martial and Rashford pulled into some good positions and United looked good going forward but their balance was way off as they overcommitted time and time again.
Late on they pushed hard for an equalizer but Harry Maguire came closest as they swung balls into the box and couldn’t carve out chances with Rashford, Cavani, Pogba, Martial, Fernandes, Mata and Greenwood on the pitch.
Solskjaer just cannot get the balance right, both with his formations and personnel, as United are chopping and changing their lineup so much that a little bit of attacking fluidity is being lauded. It shouldn’t be like this. If only United had a clear playing style and philosophy a la Man City, Liverpool and even Arsenal, they’d be able to plug in players and they’d know what to do.
3. Cavani and Pogba fail to have an impact
With 30 minutes to go the superstar duo were brought off the bench to try and rescue a point and they did very little to change the game. Sure, Basaksehir sat back deep and didn’t allow them much space to operate in, but we’re talking about two players on huge salaries who are world-class talents but they couldn’t unlock the defense. Pogba’s problems have been well documented and he held his hand up following his mistake to give away a penalty kick against Arsenal on Sunday as he lost his focus. But how long until we start demanding more from Cavani, who is still working his way back to full fitness? Some are already rumbling about him being the next Radamel Falcao at United, and that is one heck of a nasty comparison to try and shake off.
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