It is always delightful to beat Juventus and it is especially so for me because I support Inter in Serie A. However, I was left with a feeling of emptiness and disbelief at the end of the game. Manchester United has somehow beaten Juventus in dramatic fashion, a result that has twice its meaning for me like it is for Jose Mourinho but I do not feel overjoyed or on cloud nine with the result.
It was a better performance from when United played Juventus 2 weeks ago at Old Trafford. United defended better but ironically conceded more shots on goal than they did at Old Trafford. United had more shots themselves. The passing was crisper but the attacks were tepid despite ironically having 3 players that were busy throughout the game in Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez, and Jesse Lingard. Collectively, the attacks did not quite work out and the attacks came to naught as it has been for most of this season.
The game was strange for me in the sense that I noticed that United was playing better than they did at Old Trafford but at the same time could have conceded earlier and more had it not been for some wasteful finishing by Juventus and David De Gea. The players in midfield retained possession better and for longer but there was nothing incisive from them while the players in attack looked sharp and busy but couldn’t conjure much in terms of chances. It had seemed like United were playing for a draw.
It wasn’t until United conceded and Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini were introduced did they start to look more dangerous in attack. Like in the game against Bournemouth where I was left wondering that if it only takes a moment of good play for United to score, why can’t they play like that for longer periods?
Juan Mata got the equalizer from a superb free-kick and I felt that was all United deserved in a strange match where Juventus was still superior to United but United wasn’t as poor as they were at Old Trafford. Out of nothing from another set piece, United got the winner. I couldn’t believe it when the ball went in scrappily. I had thought maybe it will be pulled back for offside or a foul. I couldn’t believe that United was at that time on the cusp of an unlikely smash and grab victory. I didn’t even celebrate. When the final whistle blew, there was relief more than joy and there wasn’t a massive outpouring of joy from me.
United had beaten Juventus, a team that I hate but the manner with which it was achieved left me devoid of emotions because I felt United got lucky. United was not the better team and had not deserved to win but won. That is football and it can be cruel. We will take the win and the points any which way it comes at the moment. Our performances this season has largely been a struggle to watch and the results wretched so we shall take this as it boosts our chances of going through in the next round of matches at home against Young Boys without needing to go to Spain against Valencia in the last round of matches looking for a result. United’s win also means Juventus would still have something to play for when they host Valencia next.
On the positive side, the recent come from behind and late wins show that the team has the resilience and never-say-die attitude that characterized glorious United teams of old. It also shows the quality the team has to be able to pull out a win when least expected but that just papers the cracks. The performances are not good; United need to concede a goal or two before they start playing. United’s play is far from pleasant. There are moments and flashes of good play but nothing more than that. There is nothing in the play that is remotely comparable to the kind of football that brought the club so much success in the past. This is a season of struggles and I can foresee more struggles and poor results to come our way in the future.
We face Manchester City next and that is a daunting task. City is far better than United is at the present moment but the hope is that in derbies, the form book goes out of the window and derbies are to be won not played. United’s ugly and scrappy style might just be enough to win this but I enter the derby full of apprehension and fear. I just pray that at very least United are not embarrassed by City in terms of score. I sound pessimistic and of little faith but I will be there to support the team, hoping for the best. Hoping that in football things can change quickly and this is the moment for that change.