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Shakhtar 1 Man Utd 1 - tactical analysis

Nemanja Vidic's clearances and Marouane Fellaini's indiscipline were features of Manchester United's 1-1 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

Last Updated: 03/10/13 at 09:09 Post Comment

David Moyes saw his Manchester United team get a point at Shakhtar Donetsk

David Moyes saw his Manchester United team get a point at Shakhtar Donetsk

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United earned a point in Ukraine after a hard-earned 1-1 draw against Shakhtar in Group A of the UEFA Champions League.

Danny Welbeck's first-half goal had put United ahead and they subsequently defended well to give David Moyes hope that his side could pick up a confidence-boosting victory.

But the pressure told late on and Taison blasted the ball past David de Gea to level things up and ensure the points were shared.

Here we use Opta data to examine United's shape, Shakhtar's crossing, Vidic's clearances and Fellaini's indiscipline in an in-depth look at the game...

Selection

There was no Wayne Rooney in the Manchester United squad due to injury but Robin van Persie did return to lead the line. Tom Cleverley played in support of the Dutchman with Welbeck on the left and Antonio Valencia offering width out on the right.

Patrice Evra returned at left-back with Rafael on the right and Chris Smalling partnering skipper Vidic in the centre. The Serbian missed the home defeat to West Brom at the weekend but neither of the centre-backs from that game - Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans - featured in Ukraine.

Shakhtar went with an experienced back-four although further forward they are much changed following high-profile summer exits. Alex Teixeira played off striker Luiz Adriano as they matched United in a 4-2-3-1 formation that included marauding right-back and captain Darijo Srna.

Where it was won and lost

The quality of United's passing and creativity has been questioned in the early days of the Moyes era but they began in positive style, retaining possession in a bid to take the sting out of the home crowd in the opening stages.

Although Shakhtar went on to dominate the ball once a goal down, that should not detract from the fact that United played some good football before their breakthrough goal - the lengthy move that led to Van Persie's shot was high quality and the Dutchman should have done better.

Cleverley was a little fortunate not to concede a penalty shortly afterwards for a foul on Teixeira but Moyes might be more concerned by the way his No.10 eschews goalscoring opportunities in advanced positions.

"I don't know why he doesn't have a dig there himself," wondered co-commentator Alan McInally after one first-half opening was refused. "He's not even given Valencia a chance with the pass."

It's been a similar story with Welbeck in the past but the England man showed good anticipation to seize upon an error by Yaroslav Rakitskiy and turn the ball home after 18 minutes. The goal came after good work by Fellaini to cross after receiving a pass from Valencia on the right.

It was no surprise that the chance came from the right flank as Valencia offered United's chief outlet throughout. The average position map above shows how Welbeck tucked in from the left to support Van Persie.

That was occasionally problematic for the visitors because Srna was allowed to join in the attacks from right-back. Welbeck worked hard to track his man but his dual role was a big ask and United were dependent upon Srna's own wastefulness as he pumped in a series of low crosses that were comfortably dealt with.

As a result, Moyes' team appeared content to allow Shakhtar possession in wide areas and retain a compact shape. "United are defending really well," said McInally. "They're giving Shakhtar no space at all. They're just patiently keeping Shakhtar at bay. Vidic is playing a captain's role at the moment."

Indeed, Vidic's clearances were a feature of the game. The 31-year-old centre-back was in his element heading and booting away balls as they came into the box and organised his defence well. Vidic made an astonishing 20 clearances in the game - only two other players on the pitch made more than two.


Shakhtar v Man Utd - Clearances
PlayerClubClearances
Nemanja VidicMan Utd20
RafaelMan Utd8
Chris SmallingMan Utd5


Sadly for Vidic, the night might be remembered for the occasion he failed to find an effective clearance. An unexpected bursting run from Rakitskiy resulted in a ball being fired across goal from the left, eluding several players ahead of Vidic with his touch only setting up Taison for the equaliser.

With the crowd up and Shakhtar eyeing a winner, United did well to see the game out for a draw. Ryan Giggs added a little maturity in the middle after replacing Fellaini, who had become a target for the home fans even before his booking. "He's tried too hard, the big man," said McInally. "He's given away possession an awful lot."


Shakhtar v Man Utd - Fouls
PlayerClubFouls
Marouane FellainiMan Utd8
Antonio ValenciaMan Utd3
Patrice EvraMan Utd2
Alex TeixeiraShakhtar2
FernandoShakhtar2


No player on the pitch was dispossessed more times than Fellaini (five) and coupled with the eight fouls he conceded, it seems the Belgian must learn to adapt to Champions League football. "Giggs has just provided that calmness in the middle of the park when they needed it," added McInally.

A point is undeniably a good result against a team that came into the contest unbeaten in their previous 14 home matches. But the more demanding of United fans might ask some questions regarding the attacking ambition of a side that fired off just three unblocked shots all game. Even so, Moyes will surely be content to chalk off a difficult tie and turn his attention to Sunderland.

Moyes' view

"It's a good point in the Champions League coming here. Shakhtar have got a great record against English teams. The team stood up well to it. We got a good goal early doors and I thought we looked like we'd stop them scoring tonight as we defended really well. We said at half time we needed to keep the ball better but we actually gave it away more in the second half. They got a ricochet for the goal so I thought we were really unlucky."

Dwight's view

"It was a well and hard-earned point. Shakhtar got into a really good rhythm in the second half and took the game to United. I think United showed a lot of resilience by hanging on in there and trying to keep them at bay. They did well. You can see why it's such an extremely difficult place to go and get a result. I think they'll be happy given the way things have gone for them in the past few weeks. This was a really good point for United and the boys will be pretty satisfied with their performance."

Player ratings

Vidic was the best player in a United shirt as worked hard to keep out the Ukrainian side. "He was exceptional. He's such a winner and a commanding force at the back there," said Dwight Yorke. Unfortunately, the defender's involvement in Taison's goal means that the Brazilian edged our man of the match vote.

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

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ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

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