It was a very bad Champions League night for both clubs which call Manchester home. On the opening night of Champions League play, both Manchester United and Manchester City suffered 2-1 losses; United at the hands of Dutch champions PSV, and City to Italian champions Juventus. Both clubs have been in good form domestically in England, especially City, but looked very average against their European opposition to open group play.
Manchester United suffered their loss in Eindhoven against Memphis Depay’s old club, PSV, 2-1, and lost Luke Shaw to a horrific leg injury. Memphis did score against his old club, but it was not enough to overpower the pesky Dutch side, which was not intimidated by the giants from Manchester. It was a big night for the Red Devils in their return to the Champions League after failing to qualify for last year’s competition. Uncharacteristically, United had to qualify for the group stage and although they looked great in qualification, that form did not translate to their first group match.
Louis Van Gaal has said that he does not believe Manchester United has the quality to win the Champions League, and his squad looked as if they played with that exact mentality. Memphis opened the scoring with a brilliant bit of individual play, but it was not long before Hector Moreno found the net for PSV deep into first-half stoppage time. It did not take long into the second half for the home side to take the lead through Luciano Narsingh, who headed in a great cross to put Manchester United in a hole out of which they could never quite climb. So far this season, United has looked far from convincing, even in their victories, and this loss may be the wake-up call Van Gaal needs to see that he must make changes. The problem is that United is not very deep and lacks real No. 9-type strikers, which is really what they need at this point, because so far this year, goals have not been the easiest for them to come by.
Manchester City faced a far more accomplished and talented side in Juventus than United did with PSV, but the result is equally disappointing considering the loss was at home and City was in incredible form leading up to the loss. City had yet to even concede a goal in the Premier League and had looked unbeatable up to this point. In this match, however, they did not even really score a goal, as their only score was an own goal scored by Giorgio Chiellini when Vincent Kompany clearly fouled the Italian on the corner header.
After the goal, Manchester City really looked to go forward and win the match, but Gianluigi Buffon was too good on the night. The veteran keeper kept Raheem Sterling out of the net twice, as the young Englishman had two great breakaway runs but was denied on both attempts. Nearly right after Sterling’s second denied chance, Juventus used their experience in the Champions League to come back and get the victory.
Paul Pogba had a cross for the ages to set up the Italian champion’s first goal, which was finished off by newly acquired Mario Mandzukic. Pogba is quickly becoming one of the best midfielders in the world, and at only 22, it is no wonder why Juventus spent all summer turning down transfer offers from most of Europe’s elite clubs. Not very long after Alvaro Morata curled in a beauty for the winning goal, he turned on a bad clearance and whipped in a great strike from distance. While Manchester City looked lively and ready to score for most of the match, their lack of experience in closing out an elite European competitor showed in this loss.
Manchester United and City both fell in their opening matches of the group stage in the Champions League. Each went ahead over their respective opponents, then fell to 2-1 losses, dropping their first available points in group play. Both clubs will have the chance to avenge the loss by facing all three of their group opponents twice in group play. They both have just made winning their group, or even advancing to the knockout stage, that much more difficult with these losses, and will look to rebound from the disappointment in the Premier League, where both of their campaigns have started off far better. Manchester United will face Southampton next, while Manchester City will host West Ham.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius
Goal: PSV 2-1 Manchester United
Fox Sports: Juventus Fight Back to Stun Man City
ESPN: Luke Shaw Suffers Broken Leg in Champions League
Photo by Matt Janzer Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License