Manchester United 4-1 Schalke: chalkboards

May 4, 2011

The starting line-ups

Even with an XI resembling a reserve side, Manchester United were extremely comfortable against Schalke, and will face Barcelona at Wembley later this month.

Sir Alex Ferguson made numerous changes to his side, rotating hugely ahead of the weekend visit of Chelsea. Dimitar Berbatov made a rare European start upfront, whilst Nani and Anderson were other notable starters.

Ralf Rangnick brought in Sergio Escudero and Benedikt Howedes, and started Julian Draxler in place of Edu, which meant that Raul moved further forward.

Schalke started brightly and showed much more attacking potential than in the first leg, but because they had to press high up and win the ball quickly, they left spaces at the back which United took more and more advantage of as the game went on. Antonio Valencia and Darren Gibson scored in the first half, whilst Anderson got two goals in the second.

There was never a moment when United really looked in trouble – even Jose Manuel Jurado’s goal came when United were already 2-0 up. The tie was over by half time, and the second half for United was about conserving energy for the weekend, and preventing suspensions for the final – all three central midfielders had been booked.

A full-scale analysis is unnecessary, but here are some chalkboards from the game, courtesy of TotalFootball.

Schalke full-backs forward

Schalke fielded five attacking players, but like in the tie against Inter, their main threat came from full-back. Atsuto Uchida played high up the pitch and tried to get crosses in, whilst Escudero tried to do the same on the opposite flank. Ironically, it was those two that were responsible for Valencia’s opener – Uchida’s pass was intercepted, and Escudero,  trying to get high up the pitch, was out of position.


Manchester United’s main attacking strategy was to hit quick balls out to Valencia on the right flank. The chalkboard of his passes received shows how many balls he picked up from the central midfield zone.

Van der Sar

Even Edwin der Sar’s distribution showed that United wanted to hit the ball quickly to Valencia – his passes to the left flank tended to go to the left-back, John O’Shea, but when hitting the ball to the right, van der Sar looked much longer.

Schalke threat

United might be concerned that Schalke managed to create lots of half-chances – and their goal – by players running off the ball of United’s midfield, into space on the edge of the box. The majority of shots were attempted from this zone.

United attacks

United’s passes in the attacking third were focused in wide positions, and they rarely looked to play through the centre of the pitch.

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