Manchester United Vs. Chelsea FC, UEFA Champions League: Central Midfield The Key - The Busby Babe

In the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal tie between Manchester United and Chelsea FC, Chelsea were the slightly better team in the center of midfield as the game went on, despite Wayne Rooney dropping back from a forward position to help out with responsibilities in the middle of the pitch. A lot of this had to do with the way the two teams lined up in the first place, but it had just as much to do with the fact that United played deeper as the game wore on.

In the second leg, The Busby Babe thinks that the center of midfield will be one of the major keys to the game between Manchester United and Chelsea.

Much of this will be determined by the shape that both managers deploy their sides in. If United play with two central midfielders and with Rooney acting as a third auxiliary midfielder, then it will be essential for Chelsea to make adjustments. This is especially true if Chelsea play in a '4-4-2.' The Blues will then need to divide up roles between their two central midfielders; one in a pure holding role and one higher up the pitch closer to attack. If Chelsea play with three central midfielders, then the central players will be staggered vertically and provide natural positional foils to United's players; in that occurrence, it'll simply come down to individual match-ups. If United play in a '4-3-3' shape, this likely means they will play on the counter, a very possible strategy with a current one-goal lead.

While United played in the first leg with a 4-4-2 with Rooney dropping deep, it seems likely that the combination of United's lead and a healthy Darren Fletcher could cause the Scottish international to come in for Chicharito, shifting United into a 4-3-3 setup. If this is the case and Fletcher is teamed up with a holder and a creator, United could have an advantage in the middle that makes it tough for Chelsea to get the win they desperately need.

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