Mourinho must make changes from first Juventus tie to add energy to his side
It is not news to Manchester United fans that their side is currently weaker than Juventus.
The whys and wherefores of that state of affairs are a discussion for another day, but Jose Mourinho’s side were never going to be favourites to win the first match between the two sides at Old Trafford last month.
But that does not forgive the lack of effort the Reds put in to try to win the game. They were far too passive in the first half as the visitors passed them off the park and deserved more than a 1-0 win.
Then, their second half revival was so lacking in quality that the Italians could have held out for another 90 minutes at that rate.
Will there be a repeat?
There have been some signs of life in recent United performances but only one of those – the 2-2 draw against Chelsea where United were again timid before the interval – came against a top side.
Perhaps United’s recent improvement boils down to little more than playing against weaker opposition. Tonight’s Juventus return and the trip to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday will put that to the test.
Even if the Reds lose tonight, their fans will demand to see more in the way of energy and ambition, especially in the opening 45 minutes.
How can they do that?
Adding speed to the side has to be the order of the day. In terms of being ponderous, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku are the worst culprits in the United side.
It is no coincidence that the attack and results have improved with Lukaku out of the attack and Mourinho must keep him out of the side; he was far too easy for Juve to deal with in the match at Old Trafford.
Matic being dropped is long overdue. Ander Herrera at the base of midfield would add much more energy and bite, behind Paul Pogba and Fred, who can cover the ground better than Juan Mata managed to do in the home game.
Eric Bailly’s reintroduction at the back would offer more dynamism than Smalling, who left Victor Lindelof with plenty to do in the first game.
Marcus Rashford was unable to trouble Alex Sandro last month, so if Jesse Lingard is fit, his dynamism would be welcome out on the right.
Attacking the Italians with speed and energy would offer United their best chance of winning, or failing that, putting in a performance their fans can be proud of after the debacle in the first tie.