Manchester United 1 Bayern Munich 1: Five tactical observations, including Alexander Buttner is a worthy understudy to Patrice Evra and Marouane Fellaini must show his worth

Analysis from Tuesday night's Champions League draw at Old Trafford

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The Independent Football


1. Bayern failed to make the most of their possession

Bayern Munich’s possession stats were certainly an eye-opener. If the game had been a boxing match, then with Bayern’s 698 passes compared to United’s 166, it would have been stopped long before the second goal. But those stats are irrelevant if you don’t hurt teams in the final third.

Some managers call it the red zone, but United matched Bayern in the penalty boxes.

David Moyes’ men need to be better than Bayern in those boxes in Munich next week if they are to go through. What happens in the middle is almost insignificant.

2. Büttner proved he is a worthy Evra understudy

Alexander Büttner was singled out as one of the weak links for United before Tuesday’s kick-off, but he performed exceptionally well against the German champions.

He tucked in well alongside Nemanja Vidic at left-back and his defending against two world-class players in Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben will have given Moyes food for thought.

He might not have Patrice Evra’s qualities on the ball, but the 25-year-old Dutchman has more energy and pace than his French  colleague.


3. United can hurt Bayern at set pieces

Bayern’s defending for Vidic’s goal was poor, to say the least. They decided to mark zonally, leaving three up, but what was even more baffling was that the smallest player on the pitch, Philipp Lahm, marked the key central zone, making it simple for Vidic to attack the ball unchallenged.

If Bayern are as slack in the return leg, then this could be one key area where United can win the game, especially if the delivery is right.

Nemanja Vidic directs a header past Manuel Neuer to give United the lead

4. Guardiola oozes confidence on and off the pitch

From sitting just yards away from Pep Guardiola, it was interesting to see how he operates on a touchline.

He was very calm, demanding the maximum from all his players and making every decision himself. He very rarely consulted the other coaches on the Bayern bench.

But it was the post-match press conference where I really got to see close up how he works. David Moyes was first in and very strait-laced, thinking about every answer, being careful not to be caught out, but Guardiola was too cool for school when he told one English journalist to look him in the eyes when talking to him and telling another that he’d already answered his question three times. Guardiola had confidence in abundance.

5. Fellaini needs to show his worth against top opposition

It’s fair to say that Marouane Fellaini’s Manchester United career is yet to take off. Once again, it was a difficult game for the Belgian on Tuesday.

Against Manchester City last week there were ironic jeers when he was substituted, such was the  perceived lack of quality of his performance, and the crowd at the Munich game also got frustrated with him at times.

Much-maligned Belgian struggled in both the air and on the ground

He will need to be mentally strong to get through this period and put the crowd reaction out of his mind to come out of it a better player.

There are signs, however, that he is showing his worth. In United’s last three away games, albeit against lower-quality opposition, he has arguably been their best player.