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UEFA Champions' League

Man Utd v Lyon: Preview

Alain Perrin thinks Karim Benzema would be a big hit at OT today — a big hit for Lyon, that is. The young hotshot was more than a handful for our defence, manufacturing a goal out of nowhere in the first leg. So he is certainly one to watch out for. I certainly rate the mountain of a player.

But more crucial would be the influence of Juninho. The Brazilian is easily the most consistent free kick taker in the world and United’s players would be well advised to avoid conceding free kicks within his range. Paul Scholes, I am looking at you, especially. Lyon also have one of their better defenders, in Cris, returning after a seven month layoff. Hopefully Ronaldo and Co. run him ragged.

The good thing for us, though, is we don’t have to score to go through. Or, to put it better, Lyon will have to attack if they want to go through. And at home, that would suit our game just fine.

With Giggs certain to miss out, Sir Alex would definitely play Nani and Ronaldo on the wings. Rooney, rested in the weekend, will return and would most likely play up on his own. Hargreaves, Scholes and Anderson could form the centre three — but then, that could be anyone’s guess. I believe Fergie will persist with a 4-3-3 because protection of the back line will remain foremost in his mind.

Fergie has spoken about sentimentality recently in reference to Paul Scholes. According to the Gaffer, if United were to reach the finals of the Champions’ League, he will certainly pick the Ginger Prince. All this we know, is because of the veteran midfielder missing out in ’99 due to suspension.

Speaking of veterans, Giggs’ injury would have forced SAF’s hand in starting Nani. But the young winger has shown enough promise in recent weeks to guarantee a pacy front three that would suit our swift counter attacks. There were murmurs of discontent reported in the press about Nani’s fuss in letting Hargreaves take the free kick in the Fulham game. There were also some signs of disappointment at being replaced during the latter part of the second half. We hope it is his desire to impress that’s causing him to express his displeasure, and not a Ronaldo-esque sense of egomania. That said, it’s not bad to want to succeed, but it’s not particularly endearing either, to want to be at the centre of attention when you have a lot left to prove.

Right. Prediction time, and I say 2-0 to United. I am being a little optimistic here but I am in good spirits today.

Cheers!

102 Comments

102 Comments

  1. t_reason

    4 March 2008 at 21:27

    GET IN….and hammer those french bas*** and send them back with the wine they got for us

  2. james f

    4 March 2008 at 21:28

    And this is the beginning of the end of Lyon’s European dream for 2008.

  3. panks

    4 March 2008 at 21:29

    RONALDO.OOOOOOOO. ONCE AGAIN NO.7 FOR US….

  4. Sig

    4 March 2008 at 21:36

    Even being 1-0 it doesn’t change to much in Lyons perspective. Alex isnt pleased. you can tell… maybe a half time change?
    Lets get a second goal in the first 10/15 mins of the second half… Nani’s on a yellow. I would bring on Tevez now..

  5. Taehr

    4 March 2008 at 22:02

    I dont know how but fletcher is looking a totally different player.

  6. phoenix red

    4 March 2008 at 22:02

    this isn’t comfortable

  7. Nico QB

    4 March 2008 at 22:06

    taehr- fletch different how? good or bad different?

    Also how is anderson doing?

    Spare a thought fo us who can’t follow the match!

  8. Utsav

    4 March 2008 at 22:08

    From what i can read, they’re putting quite a lot of pressure

  9. phoenix red

    4 March 2008 at 22:17

    teves on for andy, argentina! shit they hit the post, keita. fuck that was close! We need another goal, rooney nearly in, attack attack attack

  10. Chris

    4 March 2008 at 22:20

    we’re getting a bit edgey, need another goal to settle us down

  11. james f

    4 March 2008 at 22:21

    Fletcher is a giant today. A second goal would be perfect now.

  12. james f

    4 March 2008 at 22:29

    They’re totally exposed at the back and they’re tired. It’s a matter of time before Rooney, Tevez or Ronaldo nets the second.

  13. Taehr

    4 March 2008 at 22:33

    Milan r out!

  14. panks

    4 March 2008 at 22:33

    other than the one goal ronaldo is shit.he’s just giving the ball away too much.i’m just too nervous..

  15. Chris

    4 March 2008 at 22:34

    boring match i think, there wasnt much in there to call it a great performance but all that matters is that we got through.

  16. Utsav

    4 March 2008 at 22:34

    Game , set, match… now wait for the draw…

  17. Utsav

    4 March 2008 at 22:35

    PS: Milan got ripped apart… 2 nil to arses

  18. phoenix red

    4 March 2008 at 22:35

    its all over! 1-0 it’ll do, not the best but we got the result.not pretty but effective.just!

  19. Sig

    4 March 2008 at 22:39

    United played a professional game… Arsenal beat a haggered team… good stuff… now if only the semis could be Liverpile v United and Arsenal v Chelsea haha

  20. Beachryan

    4 March 2008 at 22:41

    Ronaldo was absolutely crap today. Even his goal doesn’t make up for his second half performance. Gave the ball away consistently, wasn’t the least bit lethal on the break, put ou defense under pressure, didn’t track back – just awful. Can’t believe he’d turn in that kind of performance in such a match.

    We were so comfortable in the first half with the passing and movement, no idea what happened in the second. I didn’t see a big Lyon change, we just stopped playing simple balls and started hoofing it to Rooney. maybe it’s our fitness?!

  21. olliey

    4 March 2008 at 22:41

    glad arsenal knocked out our only real challenger to the cup! hahaha

  22. panks

    4 March 2008 at 22:41

    we won but a very scrappy win.we didn’t play like manchester united should do.Arsenal have dominated milan on the other hand and that too away from home.i hate to say this but they look the better team at the moment…

  23. gnat

    4 March 2008 at 22:44

    Made hard work of it in the end. But the key is goin through. And for all Lyon’s huff nd puff, they only had the half chance to score.

  24. Utsav

    4 March 2008 at 22:45

    hey panks… Thats not what everyone was sayibng only last saturday…
    Dont base your judgement on one match…

  25. Sam

    4 March 2008 at 22:47

    We were pretty poor tonight, especially in the second half, giving the ball away too much- and my favourite player Anderson had a bit of a mare…

    I’m not sure what to think about Arse knocking out Milan. On the one hand it’s good because they keep a relatively busy schedule (they’re already out of the fa cup of course) so can’t focus completely on the league. Also, I’m more scared of facing Milan in the champs league than Arsenal. On the other hand, this may give Arse the confidence to start playing well again in the league. And I can’t stand it when they do well.

  26. Sam

    4 March 2008 at 22:48

    Bearing in mind what I said first, I’m not complaining btw, I’m delighted to be through! just remarking…

  27. Dan(u-o.l)

    4 March 2008 at 22:50

    everyone was piss poor utd, lyon, the only player that did well was brown and at some times anderson. i hope this shows benzema what he’ll be missing staying with lyon.

  28. Dan(u-o.l)

    4 March 2008 at 22:54

    what type shit are you talking panks, this is their first win in 4-games, we haven’t loosed in are last 4 games and we didn’t even get pass 2nd gear in any of them(i would say 3rd gear but because of the arse game it 2nd)

    good night im of to bed!

  29. Taehr

    4 March 2008 at 22:56

    Nani was brilliant,he was better than ronaldo today.I think he now and truly earns a place ahead of giggs.He tracked back,tackled,dribbled…everything!Nani-brilliant.Fletcher has transformed into a different player.I dont know how because I hated the guy as a player two seasons back.I couldnt understand why he was selected,some of the passes he played were marvelous.Today he outshone anderson,who was disappointing to be honest.Regarding fletcher i can say fergie knows best.Carrick was good too,especially in the first half.To get to the negatives.Again,rooney,im sorry but he needs to take more care with his passes.The pass to tevez or no pass rather was terrible.His second cross was even worse.He worked hard but needs to keep the ball better.The second half became pathetic at one point.We couldnt keep the ball for more than 10 seconds,ronaldo being the culprit.I hope benzema realises that his dream of winning the champs league with lyon will never happen.I dont know bout you guys but I was again impressed with the way he held up the ball and the way he kept it.Our number 1 target if I had my way.Good win today,poor finishing,we need to improve no doubt but I liked fergies tactics.The first half was an assault on lyons defence.Come on united!

  30. Nico QB

    4 March 2008 at 23:19

    From your comments it seems that Utd are once again culprit in europe of defending a lead they have acquired, when we all know that this is not what they do best.

    And once again, Fletch transcends himself for big matches, the exact opposite of Ronnie.

    With united playing for the 1-0 victory, just wonder if hargo would not have fared better than, say, andy in his opposition breaker role today.

    Anyhow, good that United won.

  31. frankie

    4 March 2008 at 23:31

    Positives: The defence, Fletcher, Carrick (first half)and Nani.
    Dissappointing: Anderson, Rooney, Ronaldo (particularly second half)

  32. Grognard

    4 March 2008 at 23:41

    Man did this game frustrate me to no end. We controlled the ball and had all the possession and flair but when we got into the Lyon third of the pitch our skilled players just left their brains at home. To many unforced giveaways and stupidly ill advised long shots from players who don’t score from there. I hate to question the Gaffer on his lineup and his tactical setup but it just smelled of fear and respect for Lyon. Rooney cannot score without Tevez and vice a versa so why put Rooney through that? He becomes almost useless in that role as the lone striker. He tries to force things and that is when his first touch always seems to betray him. Carrick and Fletcher did the job defensively but both showed little enterprise offensively. Why was Hargo on the bench? Fergie, you bought him for the CL and for matches like this. Instead you waste him against a useless Fulham. Fletcher would have done fine against Fulham. Still, they did the job defensively even though that pairing together concerns me because they are both slow footed. And why on Earth would you take off Ronaldo with two minutes left in regulation time? Had Lyon snatched an equalizer we would not have had Ronaldo for extra time or for penalty kicks. Two bloody minutes Fergie. Jeez! I doubt he would have dropped in two minutes from fatigue. And I thought Hodgson was stupid for bringing in a striker on Saturday with only one minute left in extra time while down 0-3. The mind warbles!!!!

    For me the man of the match was Vidic. He did an outstanding job on Karim Benzema. Benzema was invisible in the United third of the pitch. The entire back four were outstanding but Vidic was especially good. Nani and Ronaldo were very dangerous but quite often gave the ball away by trying to be too tricky. Still, lets not quash their inventiveness and creativity. It can’t always work. I would like to see a little less flair and more common sense by the two when clearing the ball out of our end. They gave it away far too easily a few times in the game. Fortunately our back four made sure nothing came of it. Up front Ronaldo has proven that not only is he the best winger in the world but he is also by far the best out and out striker in the game. He shows more composure and pure finish in the box then any other striker in world football today. His goal was the kind only a calm collected sniper of garbage goals would score. As he slows down a bit physically, a job as a striker is waiting for him. But until then, let him roam around the pitch and do what he pleases. He is so special.

    RATINGS:

    EVDS 6-10 – Had nothing much to do.
    BROWN 8-10 – Did his job well. Tackled well and never let Lyon get wide on him. Needs to improve some of his throwins deep in our territory.
    RIO 8-10 – A typical solid performance by the skipper.
    VIDIC 10-10 – Was fantastic at tackling and marking Benzema out of the game. Was always where he was supposed to be. The best CB in the world. Yes, even better than Rio.
    EVRA 7-10 – Early Yellow caused some uneasiness but he defended well. Did not have a good game offensively though.
    ANDERSON 6-10 – Just never imposed himself on the game. Needs to slow his tempo at time, look up and make a smart pass. Quite often he plays a bt like a Tasmanian Devil. Lacked any flair in his game today.
    FLETCHER 7-10 – Did nothing offensively but made tackle after tackle defensivey and controlled his area of the pitch.
    CARRICK 7-10 – Made a few nice passes but really never excelled offensively. Where he did excel is on the defensive side. Always harassing players and winning many balls.
    RONALDO 8-10 – Always full of energy and creativity. With a little more support from Rooney and the central midfielders he may have offered even more. His goal was a well taken striker’s goal. He has become more of a scorer than a playmaker. Simply the best.
    NANI 7-10 – Did some nice things but he lacked making that one special pass at times and his movement was not as good as other times in the past month. Still, he was pretty good.
    ROONEY 6-10 – I’m sorry lads but for me he stunk out there. His first touch in the box has been betraying him since his return from injury. And what was that stupid attempt at a heel pass in the box late in the game when he had a clear cut shot at a goal. He’s trying to be too cute and he needs to be more direct. He also needs to spend more time in the center and in the box rather than the sides where he will never score a goal. Even after all that criticism, he worked his ass off as usual. He needs to expend less energy doing needless things and concentrate on working on his dribbling, ball control and finishing.

    Finally, sorry if this offends the United faithful but congrats to Arsenal for defeating Milan. Nothing makes my heart merrier than when I see Italians defeated in any game of football. I just bloody hate them to Hell and their negative influence on the beautiful game. Odds on the Special One being named manger of Milan within the next few weeks? He’s fantastic and he’s champion!!! Also, kudos to both Sevilla and Fenerbahce for playing a cup tie the way the game is supposed to be played. Outstanding! Good luck to the Scousers as I hope they knock out the Italian albatross known as Inter.

  33. realred

    5 March 2008 at 00:03

    i Cant understand how rooneys lost the ability to turn n run with the ball at defenders? Hes constantly trying flick after flick….just want old Wazza back. Bad tactics, wrong team selection but great result. Still waitin to see us relly perform in europe…

  34. Mihir

    5 March 2008 at 00:13

    I didnt get a chance to catch today’s game since the operator in my part of the world was also showing the Milan game. How come its only Grognard over here who thinks Ronaldo was as good as an 8/10?
    From the comments above, apart from a well taken decisive goal, it seems he was the usual no-show in a big game like this.

  35. Red Ranter

    5 March 2008 at 00:18

    [Grognard]
    I know how bad being stuck at work is, now, but Jeez! I think yours might have been the best (and most satisfying) match report I’ve read on this game.

  36. Red Ranter

    5 March 2008 at 00:23

    [Mihir]
    From what I’ve heard Ronaldo tormented Grosso earlier on but faded afterwards. I know he’s being criticised for going awol in the high stakes game, but people also don’t realise that a lot of games this season where we might have lost we won because of him on the pitch. Since, I didn’t see the game I can’t have an opinion, but I believe his goal can make up for all of that — because he covered when Rooney’s boots betrayed him. On some days you have Ronaldo: The Nobody, on others you have Ronaldo: The Irrepressible Wing Wizard and on yet other days you have Ronaldo: The Poacher. Today was probably one day where he chose to be the latter.

  37. JB

    5 March 2008 at 00:38

    You’re probably right about Ronaldo Red Ranter, but there was no way in hell that he was worth an 8/10 tonight. Six tops, even with the cool finish. As an aside the second half of the game was very similar to the Reading replay last year were we conspired to balls up counter attack after counter attack. The front six (possibly excluding Fletcher) did not come out in the second half. The first half was an exemplary display of patient, possession football. The less said about the second half the better. Thank god we don’t have to come up against Benzema again this season 🙂

    Anderson also showed that he is definitely nowhere the finished article yet, we should be careful not to put too much pressure on his shoulders too early. Finally despite all the criticism he has received, Giggs was missed tonight. His guile and eye for a pass would have been a major asset in the second half when we were on the break. Interestingly a stat I read this week had only three players set up more chances than Giggs has this season in the league. I think to win the big one this year, we are going to need the experience and guile of Scholes and Giggs as much as we will require the youthful exuberance and vigour of Anderson and Nani.

  38. Kurt

    5 March 2008 at 01:37

    I find our striker situation extremely frustrating. If Fergie is going to push Tevez into some kind of Ole mold, then Rooney needs to learn how to be a striker or we need to get him a new partner. I think Saha could have started.

  39. Jameso

    5 March 2008 at 02:00

    Funny mates how the ref kept loosing his red card, dropped it twice on the field. Players had to give it back to him. The second time took bout 5mins b4one of the lads gave it back to him. It was all funny, hope u mates saw it on tv.

  40. Millz

    5 March 2008 at 02:56

    I knew it didn’t matter who we played in the middle. if Fletch isn’t careful he might accidently force Sholesy or Hargo down the pecking order. Anderson was a little flat today. Obviously teams have realized that they need to pay more attention to the lad now that he’s a bonafied offensive threat. he also played a more advanced role today spending most of the time just in behind Rooney.
    I thought Rooney played much better when tevez came on even though he had trouble picking out the Argentine’s runs. Hargreaves could have been given a bigger part to play coming on in the last minute to waste time. i thought he’d have been useful when lyon started applying pressure around min 70. Nani showed a fair bit of skill but he’s got to stop throwing tantrums and carrying on with the referee. He tracked back well and held on to the ball much better than ronaldo today, but he also acted like an obstenate little prat.
    Ben Arfa impressed me today. Given the opportunity i’d swap him for nani. to me they’re equally talented, but Ben Arfa showed a bit more class and maturity. Plus it would give us another winger who is as well coiffured as Ronaldo, whereas Nani looks like he’d shine your shoes for a few quid.

  41. SHANNON

    5 March 2008 at 05:02

    Grog – never offer luck to liverpool brother.

    Result was fantastic! Game pretty ugly.

    I thought Rio was our man of the match, though Vidic was also great.

    Wonder what Rio was yelling at Nani at the end of the match?

    When do we find out who we will play next?

    Also; For anyone knocking Ronaldo’s performance, just remember he scored the winning goal last night and he has got 30 goals for us this season and we are in March.

  42. Utsav

    5 March 2008 at 06:24

    Shannon: Next draw is on the 15th of March.

  43. Grognard

    5 March 2008 at 06:59

    Shannon; Sorry mate but if you knew just how great my distaste for Italian football is, you would give me that one little salute to the Scousers. Other than Man U, I am an avid Germany supporter as well as Bayern Munich. I have seen the Germans lose to the bloody Italians on to many occasions and I have seen the negative influence the Italians have had on the world game and especially on tournament play and match politics. As much as I hate all things Liverpudlian, Italian football is an evil entity in my books and it needs to be destroyed. Call it an unholy alliance for one match only.

    JB; I saw a lot more in Ronaldo’s performance than you and others did. It’s not all about scoring goals or setting them up. He was continually a thorn in the side of lyon and quite often he stretched them badly. With some luck he could have set up a few easy goals but deflections and blocks were common last night. Perhaps I was generous with 8-10 but he definitely deserves a 7-10 for sure and no a 6. He imposed himself in the game and I for one did not feel he disappeared.

    Red Ranter; Thanks for the compliment on the match report. It’s my pleasure. I’m stuck in a town where none of my friends watch or like the game so posting on Red Rants is my best way to share my feelings on the game I love.

  44. Wazza

    5 March 2008 at 07:36

    SHANNON: Ferdinand was yelling at nani at the end of the match because in the dying minutes of the match, united had a free kick at about 30m of lyon goal. Instead of calming the game, Nani just took the freekick to demostrate his talent and the ball rebounded at the wall and Lyon was on the counter. Silly mistake for a champions league match

  45. Shami

    5 March 2008 at 07:43

    You know every time Brown messed up his throws, I kept screaming, “No way you’re going to get a raise now!!”.

  46. United Forever!

    5 March 2008 at 07:47

    The team played ok and I am so happy with the result. Hopefully Real will get knocked out today as well.

    I think Anderson did not have a great because he was played too upfront. I think SAF wanted to use him as Rooney’s support, but that did not work out. This is where I think Tevez could have slotted in. In Lyon he was amazing, with such a mature and dominating display. Came to the midfield, offloaded and moved and got into great positions. I salute SAF for having faith and rewarding Fletch for his recent performances. Also, I dunno why people keep on saying that Hargo is for CL. Yes he has the experience, but all the midfielders are different and it was absolutely essential not to give away freekicks to Lyon. I agree that Rooney is not so sharp these days, but he will start performing, he just needs a support. I was quite pleased with Ronaldo’s display considering his “big game” performances. He needs to step it up if he wants the World Footballer of the Year award. Kaka is out, so he has a great chance. I think the lads did well and though I would like to see more bodies in the box, the result is all that matters. Can’t wait for the draw. I bet the Scousers and Chelski will get the easier teams.

  47. SHANNON

    5 March 2008 at 07:59

    Grog; As an Australian i know what you mean about the bloody cheating bland Italians!

    Cheers Utsaz and Wazza

  48. United Forever!

    5 March 2008 at 08:00

    Not that it was a great match, but if anyone is interested I can email you guys the full match video.

  49. Dan(u-o.l)

    5 March 2008 at 09:07

    yea i want the scouse and roma to win today, that greek team might pull an upset on chelsea!

  50. donibrasco

    5 March 2008 at 09:11

    cant believe you guys with ronaldo and big game shit.what happens to big game players and small games?do they fade like him in big games?every game is big.ronaldo is our best player and in big games,the big teams mark him well.its up to the other players to show up.
    has any one realised how nani is special yet?he could be our most important player in the run in.i think fletch has stepped up to the plate well too.
    about last night,this is one of our best games in the champions league.especially the defending.brown was just unbelievable and i think sentiment out,he would keep our captain on the bench with such displays.

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