Wednesday, February 23, 2011

United And Marseille Toil To Uninspiring Draw

Man Utd winger Nani (left) challenges for a ball with Marseille left-back Gabriel HeinzeIn a match marred by the quality of the Stade Veledrome turf, Manchester United and Olympique Marseille played out 90 minutes that will not live long in the memory.

Short on quality in the center of midfield, United failed to impose any kind of dominance on the match, with the late introduction of Paul Scholes just not enough to get United the vital away goal. Sir Alex will be some what disappointed in his team's showing. Nani found himself in decent positions on several occasions but could not find the finish necessary to give his side the lead. Dimitar Berbatov was often left isolated up front as Wayne Rooney dropped deep to receive the ball, and Darrens Gibson and Fletcher were once again ineffective in the center of midfield. With the Red Devils crying out for a substitution all game, Sir Alex Ferguson finally relented, bringing on Paul Scholes for the aforementioned Gibson. With Scholes improving United's possession game, one would imagine that a further ten minutes of play might have led to a United goal, but on the day it was just not to be.

Weak on the road all season, United will perhaps not be surprised by yet another away draw, but the lack of an away goal will create a tense atmosphere at Old Trafford in three weeks time. But before that second leg encounter, United have more pressing matters to concentrate on, with three straight away matches in Wigan, Liverpool and Chelsea. If United can come out of those tough matches injury free, then they will surely remain strong favorites to progress to the last 8.

Didier Deschamps and his Marseille side will take plenty of positives from their first leg encounter. Having avoided the concession of an away goal, they will be in a strong position if they manage to find the net in Manchester, and with Andre Pierre Gignac set to return from injury, they'll fancy their chances. Perhaps even more importantly for Marsielle, key man Matieu Valbuena should be fit to start the match at Old Trafford, and you can rest assured that he will be eager to make an impact.

Who will go through to the quarters?

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