Manchester United sealed their return to the top flight of European football after a one-year absence as they cruised past Club Brugge 7-1 on aggregate. Captain Wayne Rooney notched his second career Champions League hat-trick to lead the Red Devils to a 4-0 win against an ordinary Club Brugge outfit in Belgium.
Club Brugge: Sinan Bolat, Davy De fauw, Oscar Duarte, Jean-Charles Castelletto, Layrens De Bock, Boli Bolingoli Mbobo, Claudemir, Victor Vazquez, Ruud Vormer, Tom De Sutter, Abdoulay Diaby.
Manchester United: Sergio Romero, Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj, Memphis Depay, Wayne Rooney.
Michel Preud’homme, the Club Brugge manager, lined his side up in 4-1-3-2 formation, with Claudemir as the holding midfielder. The two forwards, De Sutter and Diaby, did little to put United’s two-man central defense under pressure and always allowed them to pass out from the back.
Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United lined up in a familiar-looking 4-2-3-1 shape, with Carrick often dropping either side of Smalling to maintain the numerical advantage at the back against Brugge’s two forwards. Mata was deployed on the right but he drifted inside most of the time, whereas indentations were ball-oriented in attacking phases, and mostly toward left.
Manchester United’s Lopsided Patterns
Manchester United had a lopsided look about their patterns in attacking phases with particular emphasis put on attacking through the left side. Van Gaal did well to utilize the explosive threat of the left-sided players, Memphis and Shaw, and most of the Red Devils’ attacks built up through their left flank.
Shaw was particularly direct, and made a number of runs into the inside channel from his own half as Memphis hugged the touchline. This prevented Brugge from creating overloads on the Dutchman, and isolated him to take advantage of a 1v1 situations, which was the initial plan to start with.
Herrera In The Hole
After a fairly average first half in the whereabouts of the ‘hole’ area, Januzaj was taken off for Bastian Schweinsteiger at half time which brought about an interesting tactical switch, which in turn maximised the attacking potential of United’s front men. Herrera was deployed further forward after blowing hot and cold in the first half, and even picking up a booking.
After half time, United had two visible blocks: a six-man block in their own half and four players in the attacking half, with enough good passers in the first block (Carrick, Schweinsteiger) to connect with the second block. Rooney’s two second half goals came from combinations and interplay between the front four which looked pleasing on the eye.
Disappointing Club Brugge
Club Brugge were disappointing from start to finish and the 4-0 final score was probably flattering for the Belgian champions who looked a team without plans. They were carved open in the initial stages of the second half with ease, while their plan to keep a disciplined line in the first half was easily pulled apart.
In the build up to the first goal, Depay dribbled inside from his wide left position and dragged centre-back Duarte to leave Rooney free inside the box. Depay threaded a penetrating pass to his captain, and soon Rooney was in a one-on-one situation which he duly took advantage of, scoring his first goal of the season.
Club Brugge v Manchester United: Reactions
Preud’homme was full of praise for opponents Manchester United, and talked up their quality and mentality to thrive in Europe.
“This team (Manchester United) has everything – technical quality, physical quality in power and endurance, and of course they have the mentality,” the Club Brugge manager said.
While Van Gaal saluted his captain and hailed his team’s organisation.
“I think we were very organised. We played the ball a little bit more simple than before. You can create gaps and we scored so that is also good.”
Van Gaal on Rooney: “Every goal shall give confidence to every player, even Wayne. I’m very happy for him.
“He has the best mentality that you can imagine. Such players with that level will always come back.”