Well this one hurt, if you’re a fan of English clubs in the Champions, or especially of Manchester United. And relief if you’re a AS Roma fan for finishing the job when called upon, something Manchester couldn’t quite figure out.
Manchester United 1-2 Sevilla FC (1-2)
Sevilla deserved this game, no doubt about it, but United clearly set themselves up for limited success from the start. As you can tell from the line-up United fielded Mourinho went with a 4-2-3-1 with Matic and Fellani as the holding midfielders. While Matic is a game changer, this was the first start for Fellani since he returned from injury and also shows the style of play that Mourinho wanted to proceed with. He went with the “kick long balls at the big guy to get forward,” which credit to him was somewhat effective since passing on the ground was made difficult with Sevilla locking down the passing lanes on the ground.
It was a rather negative approach, but a Mourinho approach, and the offense never looked quite dangerous. Lukaku was doing great at the holdup play and Rashford kept bringing great runs down the wing, while Lingard was actually a bit quiet. I will note, starting Rashford was a great idea, and Lingard was somewhat in form so these were understandable.
Here’s where my criticism of the line-up comes in, Sanchez has been mostly unimpressive in league play and still doesn’t look fully settled, Mata had a much greater impact off the bench, or even Martial would’ve been a better option. The most egregious decision overall was Fellani in for Pogba, how many managers would dare leave their record transfer back from injury for FELLANI back from an injury. There was no excuse for Mourinho. As the line-up sheet shows, Mourinho threw everything into attack after the late goals from Sevilla with 15 minutes to go. It was too little too late, those players should’ve started and this one will be primarily on Mourinho. The players were also to blame as well because they had multiple missed opportunities.
As enjoyable as this might be for the rivals of United, once again English football will be poorly represented in the latter stages of the Champions League, which isn’t really great for any Premier League fans.
Oh and last note on this game, I don’t want to be too thick about the reasoning for the outcome of this game, but credit to Sevilla’s manager, Vincenzo Montella. Montella managed the game well, Sevilla came with a purpose and his substitute Ben Yedder completely changed the game. The criticism of United was just so strong because the last 15 minutes when they were playing catch up was the most inspired football they played all night making it very obvious they were capable of pressing the Sevilla defense, but it was much too late.
AS Roma 1-0 Shakhtar Donetsk (2-2) [Roma goes through on away goal advantage]
The second game of the night where Roma went home on the second leg and took care of business. Dzeko was great on the night, he played his game well playing on the backs of the center backs waiting for a ball to put him through.
Shakhtar had the majority possession during the game but really didn’t do much meaningful with it. They had zero shots on goal. Roma easily neutralized them but let them have the ball to not get caught on a break.
Great Champions League games, that were close throughout the match, but each victor earned their right to the quarterfinals. Tomorrow will be the last round of Champions League before the break, stay here for the review!