Manchester City had already qualified for the knockout stage of the Champion’s League by the time they arrived in Turin to play Juventus.

This had been achieved by their fine away form in beating both Borussia Moenchengladbach and Sevilla and was in no way thanks to their patchy home form where they had already lost to tonight’s opponent. Unfortunately, their patchy home form became their patchy away form and they lost 1-0 at the Juventus stadium.

Manchester United knew, when they arrived at the Lowry hotel in Salford, that beating PSV Eindhoven tonight would mean that they would qualify for the next round as well.

Their passage had been based on reasonable home form where they have already beaten CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg, not their patchy away form where they had only collected one point. Unfortunately, their patchy away form became their patchy home form and they drew 0-0 in a boring game at Old Trafford.

In Turin, City were unlucky not to take at least a point. They played reasonably well but showed a little tactical naivety which allowed Juventus to take the spoils without too many problems, Mario Mandzukic scoring the goal that won the game. Italian teams are still the best at holding on to a one goal lead, although City should have equalised on two or three occasions.

Another surprising decision by Manuel Pellegrini was to take off Fernandinho when he was, arguably, City’s best player. After this substitution City lost some of their impetus and the game petered out, with the exception of a Raheem Sterling miss when it looked easier to score.

Of the two it was obvious which had spent the most years competing in the Champion’s League as, for the second game against City, Juventus got their tactics spot on, despite riding their luck at times.

This result means that City have to beat Borussia Moenchengladbach at the Etihad in the final game and hope that Sevilla can beat Juventus in Spain, which is a possibility. If this scenario occurs then City will win the group thus avoiding the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid in the knockout stage.

Manchester United have made life much more difficult for themselves. In a game which saw the inexplicable return of Wayne Rooney at the expense of Juan Mata they had their usual majority possession without causing too many problems because, in order to keep possession they spend too much time going sideways and backwards. Having said that, they had a couple of decent chances to score which Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard managed to squander.

On the tenth anniversary of the death of George Best I can assure you that he only watched the game from above until his tribute had been paid, then he would have changed channel.

From needing a win at home to qualify, they now need a win away to Wolfsburg to qualify, even a draw may not be enough. If PSV beat CSKA in Holland, which they should do, then they qualify, meaning United would have to win in Germany.

As per usual, Manchester United are doing things the hard way and, although they have a very good record of succeeding from these positions in the past, they may be not be successful this time out.

So, of the four English teams who are taking part in the Champion’s League this year, three of them will not know if they are going to qualify for the knockout stage until the final game. It is hardly surprising that there is a danger of England losing a European spot when this state of affairs exists.

  1. Incredibly boring United game definitely.

    Liked by 1 person

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