Manchester United 0 – 1 Juventus: What did we learn at Old Trafford?

While it briefly appeared that Jose Mourinho had found some breathing room at Old Trafford, questions surrounding his future will surely once again begin circling.

Despite previously not tasting defeat against an Italian side in the last 11 years, Manchester United once again struggled on the European stage.

With an unmarked Paulo Dybala finishing from close range following a cross from the returning Cristiano Ronaldo, Mourinho’s side struggled to find any real foothold in the game.

Now in a battle to secure second spot in Group H, United’s trip to the Allianz next month is looking increasingly important.

As for Juventus, a commanding victory for a side who already sit four points clear at the top of the Serie A table, Massimiliano Allegri’s side have already confirmed their spot in the knockout stage.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 23: Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus and Blaise Matuidi of Juventus celebrate following their sides victory in during the Group H match of the UEFA Champions League between Manchester United and Juventus at Old Trafford on October 23, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Juventus could be contenders

Although Allegri has managed to secure four consecutive double winning seasons during his tenure in Italy, the 51-year-old is yet to bring European success to The Old Lady.

However, securing their third Champions League win in as many games, Juventus’ performance on Tuesday night would have certainly raised a few eyebrows across Europe.

In the ever so brief moments that Mourinho’s side showed a glimmer of getting into the game, Juventus were able to dictate the tempo and kill any kind of United momentum.

With so much fluidity between their attacking trio, the likes of Ronaldo and Dybala were constantly asking United’s defence plenty of questions.

Constantly finding the pocket in front of United’s defence, Juventus’ quick movement off the ball was a huge problem for United all evening.

Along with nullifying Romelu Lukaku on almost every attempt, the defensive duo of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci set the tempo from the back.

With United happy to allow their guests to keep possession inside their own half, the Italian compatriots were not afraid to go long and utilize the space behind Lindelof and Smalling.

Failing to win a European title since 1986, the mood around the Allianz should be high, especially as the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are so publically struggling.

Manchester United Jose Mourinho

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 06: Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United looks dejected during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on October 6, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

United lack a game plan

After battling back against both Newcastle and Chelsea, many thought Mourinho’s men would come out the blocks with some level of intensity.

However, fans around the Stretford End were quickly disappointed.

With Juventus almost playing as the home side, Mourinho’s decision to not press Allegri’s aging back line seemed like a very foolish one.

Despite bringing Juan Mata into the side to offer them a creative spark, he was a spectator for the most part.

One man who highlighted the confusion in United’s ranks was Paul Pogba.

While his shot after 75 minutes may have rattled the post and had Wojciech Szczęsny scrambling, the World Cup winner had another indisciplined performance for the most part.

Playing alongside Nemanja Matic, the duo never looked like they were on the same page and Juventus’ midfield three were able to constantly take control.

In contrast to Juventus’ front three that were constantly interchanging and showed real signs of chemistry, United’s attacking trio struggled to make any kind of impact and could never find a way to interact.

Managing to touch the ball just three times in Juventus’ box in the first half, Lukaku’s lack of mobility will once again be a strong topic of conversation.

While in small bursts he did find himself inside his own half, the 25-year-old offered United very little in the final third.

Insistent on not playing the ball long and allowing him to hold the play up, Lukaku looks a completely different player to the one that has recently become Belgium’s all-time leading goalscorer.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 23: Paul Pogba of Manchester United challenges for the ball against Miralem Pjanic of Juventus during the Group H match of the UEFA Champions League between Manchester United and Juventus at Old Trafford on October 23, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Pjanic shines

Although Ronaldo’s return and Dybala’s finish may steal the headlines, one man at the heart of Juventus’ midfield deserves plenty of praise.

Sitting in front of Chiellini and Bonucci, Miralem Pjanić was the man at the heart of everything good the visitors produced.

Heavily linked with a move to Manchester City over the summer, the 28-year-old is almost identical to another one of Pep Guardiola’s transfer targets, Jorginho.

Similar to the way the Italian plays as almost a quarterback, Pjanic was the man who dictated the tempo of Juventus’ game.

Scoring both goals in their 2-0 win over Valencia last month, Pjanic has done a stellar job of minimizing the loss of both Sami Khedira and Emre Can.

Finishing with a pass accuracy of 91%, the Bosnian international appears to be forming a very impressive partnership with Rodrigo Bentancur in the middle of the park.

Constantly finding the space between Matic and Pogba, Pjanic and Betancur were a huge part of Juventus’ success in the final third.

Also see:

Manchester United could lose 10 first team players next summer.


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