Manchester United vs RB Leipzig Summary
The Champions League returned to Old Trafford after a year’s absence as Manchester United hosted Red Bull Leipzig in a big clash in the Group of Death. With PSG winning in Turkey, United needed three points to maintain their top spot. They faced a Leipzig side who were unbeaten so far this season. Winning six games and conceding just one goal as they lead the Bundesliga pack in the early weeks. This was a big ask for United as Ole’s Red Devils failed to make their chances count in a 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Saturday and went into the game in a five game winless run at Old Trafford. Many expected United to match Leipzig with a back five but went for more aggressive tactics with the heavy press and switched to a 4-4-2 diamond.
It was an electric night at Old Trafford with both teams pressing high and looking to counter the other. While Leipzig looked sharp on the ball in the early stages, Manchester United took the lead. 20 minutes in, great linkup in the midfield allowed Pogba to thread Mason Greenwood through on goal. On his strong foot, there was no doubt as he slotted past Gulasci. Netting his first Champions League goal on his full debut in the competition.
United kept pushing and after refreshing the lineup, found the lead with the substitutes crucial to the win. A first senior hattrick from Marcus Rashford sealed the win along with a Martial penalty made the scoreline emphatic. United blew Leipzig away and the performance demonstrated what type of United are back.
Manchester United vs RB Leipzig Player Ratings:
David de Gea 8/10
Barely had anything to do but made crucial saves when required. This type of performance is something David came under scrutiny for last season as he was not always focused and made errors when having very little to do. Today he was excellent at everything he did and you can tell his confidence is back.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka 9/10
An underrated performance today as, while most the plaudits will rightfully go to Marcus Rashford, Wan-Bissaka was a wall at the back today. Angelino did not know what to do as he was getting nothing from the Spider.
Victor Lindelof 8.5/10
Dealt with everything he faced in a calm and composed manner. The Iceman looks back to his best after three excellent performances in a row. He is another whose confidence is boosted after a disastrous start to the campaign. Long may it continue.
Harry Maguire 9/10
A warrior today and a proper captain’s performance at the back for United. He bullied Poulsen all game long and gave him absolutely nothing. Perhaps his revenge against the Dane from the Nations League but Maguire came out on top this time.
Luke Shaw 8.5/10
Much, much better from Shaw. He clearly is playing for his place and is playing much better for now. He is making more runs and creating more chances from live and dead balls. His crosses actually looked decent and caused Leipzig problems. With Telles out with COVID-19, Shaw could capitalise and make a statement against Arsenal as the last time he faced the Gunners was a disasterclass against Nicolas Pepe.
Nemanja Matic 8/10
Good performance but not great. Looks still to be shaking off some rust but looked excellent at times in the build-up play and breaking up attacks. I think for now, McTominay is ahead of him but the competition in this role is certainly a strong battle. A bit nervy with a potential second yellow but overall a good hour’s work from Matic.
Covered every blade of grass for Manchester United. The Brazilian worked his socks off and aggressively pushed Leipzig’s midfield to play their best all game. This is highlighted for the third goal when Fred wins the ball back high and feeds Rashford through on goal to make it 3-0. I would say this is not more than a 9 because his passing was still a bit iffy at times and he does lose the ball a lot. This is the one thing he needs to work on because if these had been better it would have been a flawless performance.
Paul Pogba 9/10
Great play to set up Mason Greenwood for his second UCL assist in a row. I think the description for this performance is disciplined. Pogba did everything right in every aspect. He controlled play, defended well and pressed with energy and enthusiasm. I think this is the only formation in which United could play Van De Beek, Bruno and Pogba together and clearly, it causes the opposition problems.
Donny Van De Beek 9/10
Utterly brilliant. He played as a false nine and pressed relentlessly. His passing and movement were excellent and caused Leipzig problems all game. I think he was taken off after 65 minutes because he looked rusty and a bit tired. Taking nothing away from his performance which was sublime.
Mason Greenwood 8/10
A great goal to open the scoring but seemed rusty and not quite fully fit. He was dynamic in the wide areas but his passing was often safe and not incisive enough. This will of course come with time but for now a good hour for the youngster and I expect him to start against Arsenal.
Anthony Martial 9/10
A goal and assist for Martial today as he worried the Leipzig right hand side throughout the game. His driving runs and excellent linkup play created chances for United and gave Nagelsman’s side nightmares. He could have had three assists if his passing were a touch better but good to see him off the mark as he has 7 days to recover before his next match against Basaksehir.
Marcus Rashford 10/10
Who else but Marcus Rashford MBE! A first senior hattrick caps off another excellent display from the English international as he totals seven for the campaign and four in the Champions League. Making him the top goalscorer for United and the Champions League this season so far. He battered Leipzig and clearly has learned how to be a super sub from the best in the business.
Scott McTominay 8/10
Solid on and off the ball. Kept the ball well and his aggression and energy in midfield matched and probably surpassed Matic’s. I expect him to start on Sunday and put out another great performance.
Bruno Fernandes 9/10
Energetic and influential as a sub today. Magnificent assist for Rashford and pressed Leipzig effortlessly. A similar performance is needed against Arsenal as United need him to hop, skip and jump their way to 3 big points.
Edinson Cavani 7/10
Equally important in resting tired legs and continuing United’s great work in the high press. Narrowly offside to deny him his first United goal and 50th in Europe. I could see him start against Arsenal in a front three but equally could come on and make a difference if United operate in a similar formation to today.
Axel Tuanzebe 7/10
Did nothing wrong at right back and did make a few runs up the pitch. Another run out for Tuanzebe and good to get some minutes in as he is next on the pecking order if either Maguire or Lindelof gets injured.
Man of the Match: Dr. Marcus Rashford MBE
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 10/10
Again his tactics were faultless. Let’s not forget, this was a Leipzig side who reached the Champions League semi-finals and currently top the Bundesliga with a then-unbeaten start to the campaign. The diamond allowed United to press excellently and the interplay Ole has installed in this United side carved open Leipzig at times. What’s more is that the subs he brought on made a difference and impacted the game crucially to secure the three points. This is something Ole did not truly have last season, certainly in the latter stages and the additions of Edinson Cavani and Donny Van De Beek have massively boosted this part of United’s game.
He has proven himself against two of the best sides in Europe right now and while this Champions League dominance has been asserted, it’s almost routine that whenever United fail to win any match Ole will be scrutinised again. So it is important that United continue this momentum and win against Arsenal in the league for the first time since 2018.