Top five conclusions: Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich
1. Bayern Munich are not exactly like Barcelona
When Pep Guardiola came to Bayern Munich he said that Bayern would remain Bayern Munich and not be another Barcelona. The Bavarian giants have edged closer to Barcelona’s system though and in the first-half they tried to score a perfect goal which never came.
On the hour mark, Guardiola introduced Mario Mandzukic; a more powerful forward who could bring midfield runners into play with knockdowns and win more aerial duels.
This was how the treble-winning Bayern used to find a plan B if the tiki-taka football fails. Guardiola may have drawn Bayern Munich closer to Barcelona but they still have that extra dimension if they need it.
2. This was the perfect game for Ferdinand and Vidic
Six years ago, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand formed the best defensive partnership in the world; they were comfortable to defend in any situation.
Now they have lost their pace, and they barely start together, but when they do they show that they still have everything else. This game was perfect for these old school defenders, who love to defend and are intelligent enough to read the game and make vital interceptions.
Most people expected Bayern Munich to have it easy but they didn’t because the game situation suited these players’ strengths.
3. Welbeck can be one of the best left winger in the world
Welbeck likes to play as a centre forward; he has now developed into a very powerful player with pace, energy and technique to beat defenders on one-on-one. He also comes with the advantage that he is a Manchester United academy’s graduate who grew up supporting the club which makes him invaluable for David Moyes.
The problem that leads to Welbeck not getting enough minutes is that his finishing is too poor for a club of Manchester United’s standards. The one-on-one chance he squandered in the first-half was just one of many previous examples.
He did everything else exceptionally well, but his finishing let him down. Playing him up front increases pressure on him to score, which is something a player of his type do not need. He would be better settling into a wide left position, developing his game there and weighing in with goals as a bonus rather than an expectation.
4. Guardiola was a step ahead when deploying his wingers
Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben vs stand-in full-backs looked like being terrible mismatches. But Guardiola wisely observed that Alex Buttner is better one-on-one than Patrice Evra. He also realised that, with a centre-back likely to deputise at right-back, Ribery would face man-to-man marking and a defender not too interested in bombing forward.
So, each time Ribery or Robben attacked down flank, they had their full-backs running in beyond them and someone else providing options in central midfield. That helped Bayern create many chances from wide areas, but they only produced a goal once Mario Mandzukic came on to attack the crosses.
5. Bayern Munich are not complete
Bayern Munich may be the best team in the world and the reigning European champions, but they are not complete.
They showed their defensive weaknesses, particularly with Javi Martinez looking uncomfortable at the back. Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney may have had few chances up front but each time they did, they easily got goalside of both centre halves.