The S-Thread For 2/13/12: 2012-13 Champions League Round of 16 Day 2 (Halftime Version)
Halfitme: Both games tied at 1-1
The pros and cons of Angel Di Maria summed up into that first half.
The two major moments of the first half represented Angel Di Maria at his best and worst. Him leaving his far post responsibilities lead to Danny Welbeck's vital away goal. But his energetic playing style and tremendous offensive class shown in his latest perfect left footed delivery for Ronaldo's magical header.
Michael Carrick has got to step up for United and help them have some sound possession in the midfield to combat Madrid's determined effort to try and score at least two goals in half #2.
The keys to tonight's mega clash:
1) Although Johnny Evans has had his best season by far in a United uniform, he still is a liability against top class sides. Him and Ferdinand are easily drawn out by aggressive midfielders and sophisticated center forwards who make smart runs. Benzema has to take advantage of that today to turnaround what has so far been a disappointing campaign for him.
2) Though a quality goalkeeper in his own right, Diego Lopez is not Iker Casillias, and it will be vital that he makes sound decisions today.
3) Fabio Coentrao has to be discipline and smart with his decision making to go forward to assist young Varane on the right side today in defense.
4) Michael Carrick must show that he is class enough to handle a game like this with a strong two-way performance. Thought of as good but not great, Carrick has to take his game to another level in order to the likes of Alonso and Khedira to not completely boss the game in the middle of the park.
5) United's Rafael and Madrid's Arbeloa will have to be called on today not to be anything less than exceptional. It's likely that despite them not getting much attention that their performances today could decide the game.
Madrid has placed all their eggs in the basket to win this Champions league this season and will build off their good performance from Saturday in hammering Sevilla. United have too many backline problems that have been covered up the last few weeks, but will be fortunate to nick a goal. 2-1 Madrid.
Halftime review and tactical changes will come after the first 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the night's other match, it was suppose to be a great 50/50 slick passing tie between Shaktar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund, and that still could be the case.
However, with the shock departure of Willian and their three month winter break, it will be very tough for Shaktar to hold off Dortmund, even with talented fellow Brazilian Taison replacing him.
Still, they are difficult at home and will be as competitive as possible. The lineups for their first leg tie: