High hopes. Great expectations. Manchester United fans went into the game at Wembley looking to get one over on their blue neighbours.
The pre-match discussion largely based around the fact United had been there and done it before whereas City were relatively inexperienced when it came to the big occasion. The big question of the afternoon: Who would be missed more, Carlos Tevez or Wayne Rooney?
The answer would come from a tense tie that left the United faithful disappointed, as Mancini’s men capitalised on an inability to clear the ball at the back, allowing Yaya Toure the opportunity to get an easy finish, and get the goal that would prove to be decisive in sending City through to the final, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson’s hopes of a treble as merely a dream. With that, here are five things that could be taken from the game.
1) Manchester City were the better team
For parts of the game, United looked threatening and dangerous, trying to impose themselves on the game early on and take the lead and with that a couple of opportunities presented themselves that, had they been taken, may well have altered the outcome of the game completely, and the red side of Manchester would be making yet another trip to Wembley come the end of the season.
Alas, United were left to rue what might have been, because despite patches where they looked to be in control, City were simply better for most of it. The towering presence of Toure, combined with De Jong and Barry meant City were dominant in midfield in a way that meant United were unable to take control.Toure in particular was a real threat, getting forward and providing a defensive headache that earned him a man of the match award for his exploits. As well as this, Balotelli seemed to take up the role that Tevez could not provide and Joe Hart provided his own heroics in keeping a clean sheet.
2) Wayne Rooney was sorely missed
The thought that United are reliant on Rooney, and unable to perform as a unit without him is a fallacy and Saturday afternoon gave reason to believe this was the case, with United creating enough of their own opportunities to see themselves make their mark on the scoresheet. However, it would be false to say Rooney’s absence had no impact either.
With a 5-man midfield set up that was spearheaded by Dimitar Berbatov, United seemed to lack an attacking edge that Rooney’s presence would have added. Rooney’s energy up front, particularly of late, has meant he has become a nightmare for defences, and allows other attack minded players such as Park, Nani and Valencia to have more freedom and providing greater creative opportunities. As Rooney often ges involved in every attack, a great threat is seen up front that was possibly missing today, with United going for large periods without creating a clear cut chance. The possibility of this was probably diminished by City’s dominance in the middle that hindered United in taking control.
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