Manchester United had a chance on Wednesday to lock down a position in the knockout stages of the 2015 2016 UEFA Champions League. If Manchester United against PSV Eindhoven, on November 25th, had of resulted in a win for the Red Devils they would have pushed their Group B point total to 10, thereby making themselves untouchable to anyone in the group except for Wolfsburg. Instead, Man United stumbled into a dull, scoreless draw with PSV Eindhoven-a team that now has an opportunity to botch the Red Devils' chances of advancement.
Both Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven have had consistency issues this season, and those issues have combined to make Group G one of the more fluid groups in the Champions League competition. After a year away from the UCL tournament, United surged back with a strong playoff performance to earn a spot in the group stage. In fact, Manchester's dominant performance in the playoff round-which saw the soccer squad beating Belgium's Club Brugge on a 7-1 two-game aggregate-had some football fans wondering if the Red Devils might form into dark horse contenders for the tournament.
PSV Eindhoven, on the other hand, came into the Champions League on the strength of a terrific title-winning performance in last season's Eredivisie. Affected clearly by the loss of their 2014 2015 standout Memphis Depay, who transferred to Manchester United over the summer, Eindhoven have been unpredictable and uneven throughout the group stage.
A Missed Opportunity
Unfortunately for fans in the Manchester United home jersey 2015/16, the November 25th fixture ended up being one missed opportunity after another for the hosts.
Indeed, the Red Devils looked like the dominant team from the get-go, hogging the ball in the opening minutes of the match and going on to tally about two-thirds of the possession time. Furthermore, there were a few times early on where Depay got pretty close to scoring against his old team again-something that, if it had happened, could have titled the momentum of the match strongly in United's favor.
A Solid Offense
While both football teams ultimately left the football pitch scoreless, the silver lining for Manchester United is that Louis van Gaal seems to have finally found an offensive lineup that makes sense. After weeks of sloppy play from captain Wayne Rooney, Van Gaal moved Anthony Martial to the center forward position. Backing him up on Wednesday were Rooney, Depay, and Jesse Lingard, who all had good moments throughout the fixture. Lingard, in particular, was impressive, working harder than anyone else on the soccer pitch until he picked up a yellow card at 90+3.
Still, even with his offense playing well, Louis van Gaal couldn't coach a winner here. A dynamite performance from PSV Eindhoven goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet-as well as solid work from the rest of Eindhoven's defense-allowed the Peasants to block all of United's dangerous attacks.
The Red Devils, meanwhile, looked weak on the midfield. About a half hour into the match, PSV's Jorrit Hendrix nearly netted a goal, bursting past the United midfielders and defenders to take a shot on the goal from inside the box. David De Gea made a leaping save to keep the score equal, but it was too close for comfort for the home team.
What Happens Next?
The outcome of this match means that game six is going to matter a whole lot for the teams in UCL Group B. Wolfsburg, Manchester United, and PSV Eindhoven are separated by just two points on the table standings and all have good chances of qualifying for the round of 16. CSKA Moscow, meanwhile, can't advance to the knockouts, but will still look for a win in December to earn a spot in the Europa League.
To qualify for the round of 16 now, Manchester United either need to beat Wolfsburg (a team they beat 2-1 back in September) or they need PSV Eindhoven to lose a game at home against CSKA Moscow. Will the Red Devils get the good twist of fate they need to advance, or will they continue to disappoint? Root for the football club today, with a new Manchester United jersey 2015/16 from Soccer Box!