Although it was one of the most boring games in modern football history, apart from a brilliant free-kick goal, the Manchester United vs Celta Vigo game taught everyone how not to leave space for the opponent. Coaches Jose Mourinho and Eduardo Berizzo locked the game from the very beginning, and neither side found the available time or space to organize attacks. Thus, the game was very chaotic, and attacking patterns were completely forgotten, both teams let pure luck create opportunities for them. Nevertheless, if they want to be title-contenders in their domestic leagues, they have to see beyond narrowing the game for the opposition.
United's weak attacking display this season and in recent years under Louis van Gaal is well known, but Celta Vigo's case was different last season. With their astonishing start to the 2015-2016 season, Celta were crushing almost every opponent with more or less the same squad and the same coach. Their only serious loss last year was Nolito, who they sold to Manchester City for 15 million euros. Nonetheless, their performance significantly dropped this year, although their statistics are pretty much the same as last year with three games left this season in La Liga. So, the question must be this: Why the same squad, with the same coach and pretty much the same strategy do not work as they did last year?
The answer is simple, Celta's defensive game was and is remarkable, but their attacking organization was and is occasional and individual-based. They know how to cripple the opponent's attacks by blocking almost every route to goal on the pitch and being more men than the opponent everywhere. But, what follows next is a huge black mass in which you have no idea which actions will follow one another. If you are lucky, and your players are on good form, something comes out from individual effort, but as in Celta's example against Manchester United, without luck and individual talent, then you are doomed to no opportunities.
The same comments can easily be made on Manchester United too, who got the win in Spain from a free-kick. Mourinho's team is clueless in attack, individuals assume too much of a role in organization and the English media does not help the issue. In one interview, Paul Pogba said that he would be criticized less if some of his passes turned out to be assists. I find this statement very crucial and problematic because there is clearly a visionless attacking strategy, and one of the key players in attacks thinks that if his teammates had been better at finishing, they would not have this attacking issue in the first place. Considering Mourinho's denunciatory statements against his own players, unfortunately it seems that he is also not aware of the inability of his own strategies.
What both teams should work on from now on is set-pieces and patterns to utilize collective action. Even though I believe United should also change their squad radically, if they do not make their attacks more sophisticated, there will only be minimal changes. Celta, on the other hand, can only climb to the spot they were in last year by improving their attacking play in the same manner as United. Then, they can be lethal opponents for almost any team in Europe.
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