Tactical Analysis – Manchester United vs. FC Basil

2 Oct

Manchester United vs. Basil 3-3

The final note I wrote on this match was ‘GREAT GAME’, and what a great game it was.  I really thought that this would be another bog standard affair with a relative European minnow from an average European league against a Manchester United who have
been all conquering scoring 22 goals along the way in 6 games.  However, as has been well documented United have conceded a lot of shots (113 vs. 107) yet thanks in part to the fast improving David De Gea whose already made 38 saves and poor finishing  this hasn’t proved too much of a problem.  Well not until Wednesday!

Starting Line Ups and Positions

Manchester United vs. FC Base Formation

It seems this season more and more teams are reverting back to 4-4-2 (Liverpool, Tottenham, Benfica, Milan) moving away from what has become the norm of 4-2-3-1.  This has been a conscious change in tactics from Ferguson, after the manor of United’s
defeat in last season’s Champion League Final against Barcelona he has had to look at his squad and reassess how he can beat them if they are ever to equal Liverpool’s record of 5 trophies.

United made 4 changes from the team that drew with Stoke with the surprising omission of Berbatov from the forward line Gigg’s played of Welbeck with Anderson and Carrick picked for the centre.  FC Basil came into the game wit in different form winning 4, drawing 4 and losing 2 games, however the experienced Alexander Fire had been in excellent form scoring 9 goals in 5 games.

FC Basil’s Good Start

Basil started very brightly making 33/47 passes compared to United’s 26/38 in the first 5 minutes pushing players forward in numbers looking to play an early split pass to A. Frei and Streller who were both very impressive.  Basil should have scored on the 5th minute with a direct ball to Streller’s feet who pulled Jones out of the defensive line before playing an excellent reverse ball for Frei
to push into the space left after not being tracked by Anderson.  This would become a regular situation across the United back 4 as the game went on particularly with young Jones who while being impressive in the start of the season showed his lack of experience being pulled all over the pitch.  Fortunately for United Basil’s finishing in the first half was nothing short of woeful having 7 shots with none on target.

United 1-0 Basil

After the early initiative showed by Basil United started to stamp their authority on the game specifically down the left with Fabio and Valencia combining 7 times.  Playing a straight 4-4-2 with no covering midfielder in the first half Basil’s defence was left badly exposed with the back 4 seemingly happy to go man for man against United’s 2 forwards and wingers.  As a result it was all too easy for United to carve out goal scoring opportunities as shown by Welbeck’s first goal.

United 1-0

As seen Basil have their 4 defenders matched up against the 4 attackers of United however with the midfield not tracking runners there was always a huge gap between the FB, CB and CM. While Doagari and Xhaka have doubled up on Valencia, Fabio has been allowed to run into the space dragging Dragovic from CB across to leave 2 v 2 in the middle playing a  square pass for Gigg’s to set the ball for Welbeck to (a little fortunately) finish.

United’s Second Goal

One thing United are excellent at is pressurising the opposition when out of possession or in the transition phase of play in the
opponents half.  After good closing down by Young and Welbeck, Basil’s Sommer was forced to play a poor ball out for a throw on United’s right.  From this a quick throw was taken to Carrick in middle.  As seen Basil had 7 players in a defensive position yet no one marking or reducing the space to play the ball into.  Two of the key principles of defending are to make play predictable
(i.e. force the ball where you want it) and keep the space in front of the 18 yard box compact to force the opposition to play around you or side to side, Basil did neither of these.  You would think northing was on but with a textbook training ground movement Giggs pulled Abraham out of position with Young and Welbeck running at speed from deep to create a 2 v 2 again for Giggs to play a killer ball for Welbeck to finish again in the bottom right corner.

United 2-0

With Basil defending like an episode of (ehm) Faulty Towers, this game looked over and that United would go on to get a couple of
more.  However if this season has taught us anything nothing is certain!  Basil again created another 2 genuine goal scoring chances in the first half which should have really been converted.  Again both chances came down the united right with Fabio not tracking his man in 1 vs. 2 situations and Jones just not marking. The ease at which Basil carved open the heart of United’s defence would have been worrying issue for Ferguson at half time, and it didn’t get any better in the second.

Second Half

The next goal would determine the outcome of this game. If United scored then it was game over if Basil did then it was most definitely game on.  Knowing the urgency to ensure it was them who scored first Basil dominated the opening 15 minutes again
making and completing more passes than United 97/110 vs. 10/88) and creating 5 chances this time with 4 on target and more importantly 2 goals.

United’s Awful Defending

The first came from a corner whipped into the near post and spilt by De Gea straight to an unmark F. Frei who smashed the ball into the top left corner.  On closer inspection Anderson was completely at fault in a zonal marking position on the edge of the 18 yard box leaving Frei completely unattended.    

If the first goal was badly defended then the second was even worse.  Basil who had now addressed their defence gaps we brave in possession committing both full backs high up the pitch and CBs playing the width of the 18 yrd box as a result they were able to outnumber United in midfield with Frei and Daogari moving inside with the FBs now acting as wingers.  Basil’s second goal was a perfect example of this with Fire moving of the wing allowing a pass and set with Cabral to Streller who had pulled Jones out wide leaving A. Frei to be left 1 vs. 2. As a result there was a huge gap to play Frei into who continued his pasty Evra before crossing for A. Frei to finish with aplomb as he outpaced Ferdinand.  Again United’s defence were dragged easily out of position with Fabio not sweeping around Ferdinand he was not able to reduce the space on the left by Jones for Frei to into.  Consequently the defence fell like domino’s. Basil’s 3rd goal came from another mistake this time from Jones not clearing the ball adequately forcing Valencia to give away a penalty which was scored by A. Frei for his second. Bas

Basil’s Defence

Basil’s defence in the second half was much improved playing a back five with either Xhaka playing as a 3rd CB either picking up
Welbeck or acting as a sweeper or Frei to prop in as right back against Young.  To prevent United dominating the middle of the
pitch Daogari also tucked in as the second CM.   By being more compact in the middle United really struggled to break down their defence.

It was only in the final minutes when United wen all out attack with Nani, Berabtov and Park all on and Basil having to take of Strellar and the two Fire’s for inferior players that thisdefensive shape and discipline broke.  Evetually United managed to get a 3 vs 3 in the middle of the defecen with Nani providing a brilliant cross for Young to finish.


This was a brilliant game of football with both teams making defensive mistakes.  Ferguson will be unhappy dropping 2 points with Basil now toppoing the group Benfica.  While United will still be favourites to win the group if they are to start thinking about winning the Champions League for the 3rd time they will need to sort out their defence.


One Response to “Tactical Analysis – Manchester United vs. FC Basil”


  1. Match Preview – Liverpool vs. Manchester United 12.45pm KO « the counter attack - October 14, 2011

    […] the tackle and good ont he ball he is susceptible to being cuaght out of position as seen against FC Basil.  Suarez  likes to drop of the defence to collect the ballad and drift wide to attack from the […]

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