Manchester United vs AC Milan Match Analysis

Manchester United vs AC Milan Match Analysis
Source: BBC Sport
This, the 3rd game of Manchester United’s pre-season tour and the 1st game of the International Champions Cup for United, saw AC Milan face a United side that underwhelmed in their previous two outings against Club America and SJ Earthquakes respectively. Manchester United looked to bring some positivity back to the club after what can only be described as a sombre attitude from the fans heading into the start of the season, due to the recent lack of creativity on the pitch and the underwhelming transfer window to date. This game saw United face a good and stern test in AC Milan who, though not at the level they were 10 or so years ago, are still a huge name in European football.
With Martial leaving the squad and the US Tour to be with his girlfriend for the birth of his second child, Mourinho had to change up his initial plans for the starting squad. The manager’s answer to Martial’s departure was to name Sánchez as a lone striker, with Juan Mata in support of him in what was an experimental 3-5-1-1 formation. Additionally, with the injury picked up to Antonio Valencia in the previous game, Nemanja Matic not yet match fit and the several players still missing from the World Cup, Mourinho named the strongest side at his disposal, with a mix of fringe and first team players.
Manchester United XI: Lee Grant, Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmain (c), Ander Herrera, Andreas Pereira, Scott McTominay, Juan Mata, Alexis Sánchez
AC Milan XI: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Ignazio Abate, Mateo Musacchio, Leonardo Bonucci (c), Franck Kessié, Manuel Locatelli, Andrea Bertolacci, Suso, Patrick Cutrone, Hakan Calhanoglu
Overall, it was a great opening half of football from both teams as they played out an even and open first half full of chances. The match started lively with an early corner for united shortly followed by a well struck shot from Scott McTominay. United didn’t have the opening exchanges all their own way though, with Milan’s Franck Kessié also having had early shot that went into the side netting of Lee Grant’s goal.

The opening goal of the game came from United, with Lee Grant launching the ball up to Scott McTominay who then managed to get the flick on, which feel nicely to the feet of Juan Mata, who did what he does best by playing a delicious ball into the path of Alexis Sánchez who finished coolly in front of goal. Unfortunately for United, the lead didn’t last long with Milan equalising shortly afterwards. It was the Milan defender Leonardo Bonucci who played a fantastic ball in behind the sleeping United defence which was then finished by former Liverpool man Suso. There was plenty of chances as the half progressed as both teams looked to take the lead. Both Sánchez and Suso ran the attack for their respective teams with both creating plenty of chances for themselves and their teammates, however neither player managed to stop the half ending with the score all square.

The second half started much like the first with United quick off the mark again, there were several efforts on goal in the first few mins, first with a great move and subsequent effort from Sánchez followed up by a decent shot from McTominay. 

The half then quietened down as substitutions were made but there were still good chances for both team with United having some good attacks and played some good football. For United there was a decent shot by Luke Shaw that was well saved by substitute goalkeeper for Milan Pepe Reina, although it may have been called for offside if it went in, and then also a very well worked chance from a counter attack in the 67th minute as a great ball from Andreas Pereira found Sánchez who smartly laid it off to Mata, who got a good shot on the Milan goal.  For Milan, the changes somewhat disrupted their flow, but they still managed to challenge United and create a few decent opportunities of their own, the best being chances that fell to Fabio Borini, who first snatched at a shot and blazed it over the United bar before in the 83rdminute having a shot that was tipped onto the post by Joel Pereira keeping United in the game. From then on, the chances were limited in the game and as the full-time whistle went the score was 1-1. 

Due to the fact that the game was part of the International Champions Cup, the 1-1 full time result meant that the match would be decided by penalties. In what turned out to be a bizarre shootout United ran out 9-8 winners with 26 penalties being taken. United keeper Joel Pereira saved 3 penalties in the shootout, but also missed one which could have gave United the victory, but in the end,  it didn’t matter as penalties from Pereira (2), Herrera (2), Sanchez, Smalling, Tuanzebe, Fosu-Mensah and Darmain sealed the win, in an unusually long shootout.

Overall, we can be happy that we have managed to get our first win of pre-season and we can be extremely happy with the much improved performance from the team. United were free flowing in an attacking sense which was especially impressive given the lack of creativity in the previous friendlies and the level of opposition that we faced in the game. The match provided us with a great challenge that tested many of the players, of which they most managed to step up and face head on. There are still a few things that United need to work on, but there is a lot more positives looking forward towards the start of season as a result of this game.

Author: TUD Author