Written By: Bhavdeep Singh
Manchester United’s prospects of qualifying for the round of 16 are in danger, or so it seems. After a dull draw against PSV Eindhoven at home, they stand at second position in group B (a point behind Wolfsburg and one above PSV). Their last match against Wolfsburg would decide their fate in the competition
If Manchester United lose or draw, their position will depend upon the next match in the group (i.e. PSV v CSKA Moscow), if PSV win, they would advance, however, if they draw or, in the best scenario, lose, it would mean Manchester United and VFL Wolfsburg would qualify.
A win for United in this situation would be ideal, but given their away form, in fact, their very form, it would be a tough call.
Now before you start jumping around saying that United have the best defence in the Premier League, consider this, as they are unbeaten at home (and kudos to them for that), so are Wolfsburg other than a DFB Pokal loss to Bayen Munich, that’s why, on pen and paper, the odds are in their favour.
Wolfsburg have drawn just one match and at home and won every other (their highest was a 6-0 victory against Werder Bremen) and were the only club from our group to find the net against us at home. Other than that, they have won 3 of their 5 matches and are the table toppers for a reason. Take it for a fact that Wolfsburg would be a tough team to beat, especially at home.
The Other Match
Let’s consider that the match ends as a draw, 1-1. Now the focus shifts on the next match, PSV hosting CSKA Moscow, who, sadly won’t qualify unless they win by a margin of 5 goals. If there’s something that PSV has shown this year, it’s proof of why they were dutch champions last season, they are good at controlling the play, beasts at counter-attacking and if all else fails, they can at least park the bus and avoid conceding a goal (as they did in their last match).
CSKA Moscow, on the other hand, is perhaps the weakest of the four, with a wobbly defence and a not so special attack. As there is a reason for Wolfsburg to top the group, there is also one for them being at the bottom. Overall, given their play, especially away from home, the chances of them winning at Eindhoven are quite low.
The Problems With United
Now, on to Manchester United, and I’m quite near the end now, the defence is great, Smalling and De Gea are doing brilliantly at their respective positions and can help avoid goals. The midfield has been quite good as well, especially with the mixture of Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin at holding positions, though there have been some problems of pace and accuracy at the extreme positions. The attack is a major problem, Depay has shown good form in the Champions League but that’s pretty much it, he needs to prove himself in the Premier League or he is set to play only if Rooney picks up an injury, an article on his problem would be available in a while, so I won’t focus on it a lot. Other than Memphis, we have Rooney who has been the most consistent player in terms of form for them, his constant thirst for goals comes with just one in 12 games, finally, there is Martial, the wonder kid, frankly, he may just be the one to lead Manchester United to victory.
To wrap up, we can say that Manchester United just might qualify for the round of 16, but by the skin of their teeth. If they continue playing like this, i.e. boring and possession football, they can forget about reaching anywhere considerable.