Report: Juventus reign supreme in Old Trafford battle; the gulf between them Manchester United was a big one


Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, their first defeat in the competition this season. It was Paulo Dybala who scored the winning goal in the 17th minute of the game. Cristiano Ronaldo, making another return to the Theatre of Dreams could not beat United’s defence during the game. There was a difference in class between the two teams with United needing to find a lot of improvement.

Jose Mourinho named an unchanged team to face Juventus on Tuesday evening at Old Trafford. It was the first time in 46 matches an unchanged team has been used. Alexis Sanchez made United’s injury list a little longer with an injury which was either received during the international break or during his cameo at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. It could be an exciting evening for Tahith Chong with the 18-year-old named on the bench for United. The U19s, who he could have played for this afternoon, won 4-1.

United started the game well with Marcus Rashford running up the right-wing but was fouled by Miralem Pjanic, giving United a free-kick, which came to nothing. Minutes later, Luke Shaw was fouled on the left-wing, giving United another free-kick. Rashford took the second free-kick, not able to get the ball past the Juventus defence. Juventus were aiming to give United a difficult evening, with Cristiano Ronaldo testing Chris Smalling in United’s area.

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In the ninth minute of the match, Juventus had a great opportunity through Paulo Dybala but Nemanja Matic cut his possession and kicked the ball out for a throw-in. Seconds later, Ronaldo had the chance to open the scoring, left by United’s defenders to roam by the near post but was unable to create any danger after the lofted pass was seemingly too high for the Portuguese international to fire into the back of the net.

Ashley Young nearly got onto the end of the ball, running up the right-wing but Ronaldo dropped back to cut the ball out, which started an attack for Juventus, which came to nothing. Even the best players in the world have to be defensively aware during matches. United won a free-kick in the 16th minute after Blaise Matuidi fouled Paul Pogba close to the edge of the Juventus box. The ball was lofted into the box and Pogba’s header was straight to Wojciech Szczęsny.

Juventus opened the scoring in the 17th minute through Dybala. The move was started by Ronaldo, putting in a fierce cross, causing problems with Smalling failing to cut out the play. Dybala was there to slot home his fifth goal of the season, assisted by Juan Cuadrado, leaving United behind in the first half again, which has been similar in many matches this season with the two recent ones against Newcastle United and Chelsea, seeing United rise to the game and come back into it. Could it happen at Old Trafford tonight?

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United needed to get back into the game. Just after the goal, Juventus had 70% possession with 189 passes of the ball. United had 30% possession with just 60 passes. The mentality of the players was just not comparable compared to the players of the Italian team. Maurizio Sarri suggested that United had the best squad, player for player, in the Premier League ahead of Saturday’s match with Chelsea. It was not looking like that so far at Old Trafford.

Juventus won a corner in the 30th minute of the match after Dybala tried to cross into the box, the ball striking Victor Lindelof, putting it out of play. The Italian side could have found a second goal from that corner, but it was not meant to be for them. Rashford had some good play on the ball in the 32nd minute, running into the box, which was difficult for him, only to be dispossessed before he had the chance to create something. United then won a corner, with the Old Trafford faithful up to full volume. It came to nothing.

Juventus won a free-kick, in dangerous territory. Ronaldo took the set-piece, David De Gea made a fine save to deny him, parrying the ball into the box only for Juventus to have another shot, by Matuidi, which De Gea saved again. Juventus had another great chance to double their lead but Lindelof cut the ball out with some good defending, showing that he is capable of performing to the standards required. The half ended 1-0 to Juventus. Not the best half for United, but one of the worst, not the worst.

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There were no changes for either side at the start of the second half. United started well with Anthony Martial having an opportunity to score but seeing his effort drift out of the box, however, he had another chance to create something, passing to Romelu Lukaku, who was bullied off the ball by Giorgio Chiellini. Lukaku needs a goal, it has been seven matches without him scoring for his club, only scoring recently for Belgium.

Martial had another chance minutes later but Leonardo Bonucci made the challenge to deny him from creating something for his side. Juventus won a corner after Lindelof put the ball out of play, cutting out a cross which was meant to be for Ronaldo, stopping Juventus from going 2-0 up and probably game over for United, at this stage. United need some urgency, passion, fight and the ability to create something. Ronaldo had a great shot moments later, drawing a save from De Gea, giving another corner to Juventus.

The corner came to nothing, although Bonucci got a book to Lindelof’s head, putting the Swede no his back for a moment, however, he was happy to continue. Ten minutes into the second half and United were chasing shadows. The gulf between both teams was visible to everyone and anyone. The money spent on the players at the club seems to hold no bearing on the quality of the players, based on tonight, anyway.

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United won a free-kick after Mata was seemingly fouled, albeit, by who, I don’t know. The Spaniard took the free-kick but Matic was offside and the flag was raised. United won another free-kick moments later. Young was fouled by Matuidi, who was the first player to be booked this evening. Mata took the set-piece, which was too high and a waste of an effort. United started trying to get back into the game after the hour mark, with a few chances, although nothing to write home about.

Juventus were starting to put more and more pressure on United, with just over twenty minutes remaining. Joao Cancelo was one of the players with the driving force, pushing United deep and testing them. It has been Lindelof, the last couple of times who has made the last challenge to win back possession or put the ball out of play for a throw-in. Which is good to see for the Swede, who has not got the backing of a lot of United supporters in his first 18 months of his United career.

In the 73rd minute of the match, Ronaldo had a great chance to score, running to meet the ball but De Gea came out and collected, stopping the former United star from finding the back of the net at the Theatre of Dreams. Pogba had a great opportunity in the 75th minute, stroking the ball from the edge of the box and the fortune favouring the Juventus goalkeeper, with the ball seemingly striking the post. Great chance for United.

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Ashley Young was booked in the 76th minute for a foul on Alex Sandro, Juventus won a free-kick. Before the set-piece, the first change of the evening was made with Dybala being replaced by Federico Bernardeschi. United should have won a free-kick themselves moments later, but it was ruled in favour of Bonucci, which was lucky for him. Juventus made a second substitution with Cuadrado being replaced by Andrea Barzagli. Chiellini was booked in the 83rd minute, for either timewasting or taking the free-kick further forward.

United won a corner after Lukaku tried to shoot on goal, the ball then being deflected out of play. Rashford took the set-piece, the ball was too high for Lindelof, Smalling ran to gather with Chiellini challenging him. United lost possession and had to counter a Juventus attack. United won another free-kick after Ronaldo used his arm. Mata took the free-kick, lofting the ball into the box and Matic headed to the Juventus goalkeeper.

Mata had a good chance, putting the ball in for Lukaku, who saw his effort deflected, the ball went back to Mata, who was flagged for offside. Juventus then made a third change with Douglas Costa replacing Cancelo in the 87th minute of the match. Ronaldo had another chance, denied again by Lindelof, who gave Juventus another corner. Bonucci had an effort in the closing minutes, his effort always rising, resulting in no trouble for De Gea.

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Martial had another good chance for United, shooting from quite far out which resulted in an easy collection for Szczęsny. Three additional minutes were added at the end of the half. United have not made one substitution with some eagerly awaiting Tahith Chong to be thrown in at the deep end. United spent some time in the Juventus final third, unable to grab anything from the game. Juventus then launched another counter-attack, which United dealt with.

Pogba tried to create something in the midfield but did not take the ball with him. Matuidi then ran with the ball into United’s half with the United defenders able to stop him from creating something. The game ended with Juventus taking all three points and having a vice-like grip on the group with three wins in three. United will be happy that Valencia and Young Boys drew earlier today, which sees them in second place. In two weeks, they will face Juventus again. On Sunday, United will play Everton.

Goals: Paulo Dybala 17′

Assists: Juan Cuadrado 17′

Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; Mata, Matic, Pogba; Rashford, Lukaku, Martial

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Bailly, Darmian; Pereira, Fred, Herrera; Chong

Bookings: Blaise Matuidi 59′, Giorgio Chiellini 82′; Ashley Young 77′

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