Xavi concluded the first match, but this did not bother his opponent. Analysis of the game.
There were two different halves in the second leg of the Europa League between Manchester United and Barcelona. If the first came out equal (4-4 in punches), then in the second, the British knocked out the Spaniards (8-2 in punches). How did it happen?
Barça won the first half thanks to the numerical advantage created by Xavi in the center of the field
In the first match, both teams played in a 4-3-3 formation. During the defense, the central midfielders of Manchester United dismantled opponents, acting on the principle of "each with each." Significantly, both goals of the Mancunians were born due to pressure. Since we analyzed that match, we will wait to re-develop the details.
Mindful of the first meeting, Xavi made adjustments to his team's actions in the second leg. Four midfielders appeared in the center of the field - Busquets, de Jong, Kessier, and Roberto. On the pre-match TV schedule, the broadcast directors depicted Roberto as a left forward in a 4-3-3 formation, but with possession of the ball, he operated in the middle of the field. His manner is one of the reasons why 19-year-old Alex Balde came out on the left defense and not 33-year-old Jordi Alba. The absence of a winger needed to be compensated for by the constant activity of the defender, the young guy was better suited for this role.
Such an adjustment from Xavi allowed Barcelona to continually reach the goal of others, overcoming someone else's pressure. If players from the flanks came to the players' aid in the center of the Manchester United field, the blue-garnet ones got freedom on edge and, otherwise, in the middle of the area. It is significant that the attack, which led to a penalty against de Gea, the Spaniards started from their gates.
EXAMPLE OF BARCELONA'S NUMERICAL ADVANTAGE IN THE CENTER OF THE FIELD
Manchester United head coach Eric ten Hag needed to respond to the game option Xavi found. Otherwise, Manchester United seriously risked being eliminated from the Europa League.
The Manchester United manager responded with the maximum activation of the attack
When it was necessary to recoup, ten Hag made essential changes in the composition. Firstly, he put Fernandes in a comfortable position for him as an attacking midfielder. It is symbolic that in the usual role in the second minute of the game, the Portuguese made an assist! Secondly, the coach strengthened the game with high-speed players. One of them - Anthony - scored!
But the coach was not limited to just personnel changes. Ten Hag took care of the stylistic differences. To regularly keep the defenders of Barcelona on their toes, Manchester United quickly played free kicks and throwouts. It was open about long ball deliveries to someone else's penalty area. So the hosts managed to pick up the pace.
At the same time, the same accuracy of Manchester United in the second half only sometimes matters. The meaning is simple: you can make an inaccurate pass, but with its swiftness, wreak havoc in the defensive line, and then make the opponent make a mistake and quickly organize an attack. It is significant that before Fred's goal, Shaw unsuccessfully threw an out to Fernandes in the fight, Kessie won the rebound, but Rashford put pressure on him and forced him to make a miscalculation. After that, the Catalans were confused. If the hosts thought about accuracy and put quality at the forefront, then there could be no question of inflating the pace.
Having lost the first half and being on the brink of the abyss, Manchester United showed that they could play very well on their own, not paying attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. It is significant that with his moves in the second half, ten Hag solved two problems at once - he sowed sharpness at the opponent's goal and strangled the opponent's ardor, reducing the load on his penalty area, which is proven by the statistics of blows (8-2). If not the leading contender for the cup, such a team can be considered, then definitely one of the main ones.