Real Madrid vs. Manchester United: Player ratings, and who might get dropped for second leg

Mike Hewitt

Real Madrid and Manchester United produced a great game, so it's time to reflect on the individual performances of each player and look at who's likely to be in and out for the second leg.

Manchester United

David de Gea: More or less a perfect performance - wasn't quite under siege, but periodically called upon to make huge and difficult saves, which he did perfectly, not palming the ball out into any dangerous areas either. The biggest compliment to be said of him is that his performance had shades of Iker Casillas at Old Trafford in 2000. Rating: 9 Likelihood to start in second leg: 10

Rafael: A poor display in the first half, although showed his progression as a player after a collective sinking feeling in the stomach spread around the United fans when he received an early yellow card. Fortunately, his game then drastically improved, and a far more assured second-half display did not leave him at risk of a red card that seemed a huge worry. Not his best game by a long way, but he showed his maturity and reliability and so should start in Manchester. Rating: 5 Likelihood to start in second leg: 8

Jonny Evans: A mature defensive showing, called upon to make several last-ditch interceptions, tackles and headers which could have been dangerous had he not succeeded. Did not ever look overwhelmed or outclassed, a sign of how far he's come over the past three years. Nonetheless, Nemanja Vidic may be available for the second leg. Rating: 7 Likelihood to start in second leg: 8

Rio Ferdinand: One of his best recent performances, giving a masterclass in calm, composed defending when required (and it often was, given the chaos in front of him.) Seemed to work very well partnering Jonny Evans, of which the same is not necessarily true of Nemanja Vidic. Nonetheless, the Serbian will be available for the second leg and Ferguson could look to introduce him. Rating: 7. Likelihood to start in second leg: 8

Patrice Evra: Defensively poor, often entirely absent as the ball came down United's right wing, a feature of this season. They seem to be coping quite well without Evra in position, although he did get into some promising positions when attacking, but could not quite make a decisive pass or cross. Rating: 5 Likelihood to start in second leg: 9

Michael Carrick: Entirely typical from the midfielder, able to form United's main pivot with ease but struggled badly when under severe pressure, notably towards the end of the first half. His strengths and weaknesses are now well-established, but nonetheless he seems to be one of the first names on the teamsheet for Ferguson. Rating: 6 Likelihood to start in second leg: 9

Phil Jones: Did a much-heralded defensive job, but his flaws were overlooked. His lack of invention showed as United struggled to find a way to relieve themselves of Real's pressure, and also gave away what was a stonewall penalty, missed by the referee. In general, was clumsy and looked one second away from disaster but managed to be effective in the end. The tactical gambit of his deployment worked, although a better performance may be required in the second leg. Rating: 7 Likelihood to start in second leg: 8

Wayne Rooney: A mixed bag. Although not involved in attack as much and occasionally wasteful in possession, was able to pull off some remarkable cross-field passes like nobody else in United's team could, which alleviated the relentless pressure from Real Madrid. One of his most complete performances for some time, and produced one assist and could've had two. The fact he often has a goal in him for big games, and looked energetic but disciplined, means he's another likely starter. Rating: 7 Likelihood to start in second leg: 9

Shinji Kagawa: Ineffectual. Aside from a few early dangerous runs, did not seem to suit the game, invariably being too deep or having too little support to make the most of his talents. Also offered too little defensively and struggled to keep possession. The second leg will be a different game, potentially one that will suit him better, but he seems the most likely to be changed. Rating: 4 Likelihood to start in second leg: 5

Danny Welbeck: One of the finest performances of his career so far, Welbeck put in a hugely energetic shift and appeared to gain another yard of pace just for the occasion. Took his goal well and caused havoc from the limited chances he was afforded. His inclusion was a surprise but his performance as well as his workrate suggests he's a near-certainty for the second leg. Rating: 8 Likelihood to feature in second leg: 9

Robin van Persie: Poor, by his own standards. Was unable to influence United's all-round play to anywhere near the degree he usually does, and though he went close with two half-chances, had a clear chance to win it and produced an awful finish. It's highly unlikely he'll be dropped, but for the first time it could be understandable, particularly given the performances of Rooney and Welbeck. Rating: 5. Likelihood to feature in second leg: 8


Ryan Giggs: A man who has been producing short runs of glittering form at the most decisive moment in the season for 23 years is still going strong. It's strange to think after the start of the season that anybody would be clamouring for his introduction at Kagawa's expense in a European game of this magnitude, but in his current form he has the ability to produce the key pass or cross which leads to the goal. Showed some good touches when he came on, but should have done better for his big chance. Not going to start, but expect him to feature. Rating: 6 Likelihood to start in second leg: 3

Antonio Valencia: Did little going forwards, and his decline this season has been shocking. Furthermore, he has often looked vulnerable in possession, so despite his energy, would be a surprise to see him start the second leg. Rating: 5. Likelihood to start in second leg: 5.

Anderson: Wasn't on for long enough to show anything, and unlikely to be trusted to have the discipline to do a job in such a huge game. Won't start, though a fair possibility of getting on the pitch at some point. Rating: N\A Likelihood to start in second leg: 4

Real Madrid

Diego López: Jose Mourinho could not really have asked for a much better performance - he did nothing wrong, and produced two good saves to deny Robin Van Persie efforts from acute angles. He may not be Iker Casillas but he gave a calm and composed performance that will at least remove any doubts over his position. Rating: 7 Likelihood to start in second leg: 10

Alvaro Arbeloa: A very average performance, doing nothing specifically wrong or right. Alex Ferguson loves coming up against an opposition full-back who does little creatively, because it allows him to sit his most defensively-minded forward on the other one. He's done it for years against Chelsea, and he did it again today - it has become his signature move in Europe. Given Ramos' woes at centre-back, replacing Arbeloa at right-back would make the move trickier to pull off for Ferguson at home, and above all, Real Madrid need goals. A big candidate for replacement. Rating: 6 Likelihood to start in second leg: 5

Raphael Varane: A decent performance, although was lucky not to see red and give away a dangerous free-kick for his foul on Patrice Evra, and was partly culpable for Welbeck's goal. Overall, he has probably shown enough that he has the ability to perform in games of his magnitude, although he could still be changed for the trickier away leg. Rating: 6 Likelihood to start in second leg: 9

Sergio Ramos: Terrible defending for United's goal, and did little to atone for his efforts afterwards as United had little trouble in creating chances on the rare occasions they did get forward. United have become lethal at set-pieces this season, and Madrid looked uncomfortable from them all game - with the Red Devils sure to have chances from open play at Old Trafford, they cannot afford to give away any cheap goals, so perhaps a move to right-back is in order. Rating: 5 Likelihood to start in second leg: 9

Fabio Coentrão: Looked vulnerable and was also wasteful in possession at times - not a great performance from the left-back, and with Real Madrid chasing the game, would be no surprise to see Marcelo start in his stead in the second leg. Rating: 5 Likelihood to start in second leg: 6

Xabi Alonso: Did what he does best, although Madrid did struggle to keep United from getting at them whenever they did get forward. Away from home, they may feel the need for a more defensively-minded midfielder is necessary, or they may feel that they have no hope of dominating the midfield in the same way without his assured approach. You always know what you're getting with Alonso, and like Carrick, it is not his fault he did not transform into a different player, but it's a conundrum for his manager over how best to use him, if at all. Rating: 7 Likelihood to start in second leg: 7

Sami Khedira: His tremendous energy and power was always liable to cause problems to United's midfield, and he was a menace all game, albeit without producing many decisive moments (although that was more the responsiblity of his teammates.) Overall, he proved himself a more likely candidate than Michael Essien to give the Red Devils' shoddy midfield the physical beasting which can help Madrid progress. Rating: 7 Likelihood to start in second leg: 8

Cristiano Ronaldo: A superbly-taken goal, although he might have done better with other chances or tested De Gea more frequently. Obviously, he is a certainty to start the second leg however, where his frightening speed and power will no doubt be used to ensure United don't get too cavalier in their attacking. Rating: 7 Likelihood to start in second leg: 10

Karim Benzema: Selected ahead of Gonzalo Higuain, but it seemed the Argentine would be a better option as a deep-lying United didn't give the Frenchman much room to operate. Spent most of the game blunted, although may still be preferred for the second leg to make use of his pace on the counter. United don't need to attack at Old Trafford, but whether Ferguson will attempt a repeat of his victory there over Barcelona in 2008 is uncertain, given his side's difficulties in controlling a match. Rating: 6 Likelihood to start in second leg: 8

Mesut Özil: The player United did not attempt to sign owing to him being "too left-sided" gave a superb performance and along with fellow left-footed Di Maria was Madrid's most dangerous player. His movement down the right channel, taking advantage of Patrice Evra's poor positioning, caused problems time and time again, and could have easily had a goal. Rating: 8 Likelihood to start in second leg: 9

Angel Di María: Along with Ozil, Madrid's most dangerous player, his pace causing havoc against United's backline. Was a huge surprise to see him taken off. Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand were invariably sat too deep for it to prove decisive, but in the second leg they would be expected to be further forward, and if Di Maria produces another performance on this level, it could be their best chance of a breakthrough. Rating: 8 Likelihood to start in second leg: 8


Gonzalo Higuain: Seemed a better option for the night than Benzema, though as discussed above, the Frenchman may still be preferred for the leg at Old Trafford. DId not show too much when he came on, though by then the game had slowed down somewhat. Rating: 6 Likelihood to start in second leg: 7

Luka Modric: Was always a contender to start, and showed some fine play when he came on but was nowhere near as dangerous as the man he replaced, Angel Di Maria. If he starts, it'll be in place of Khedira or Alonso, but even those seem unlikely. Rating: 7 Likelihood to start in second leg: 5

Pepe: Given Real Madrid's vulnerability once United got at them, leaving Pepe out looks like a big mistake from Mourinho and one which you would expect him to correct for the second leg. Whether in midfield or at centre-back to push Ramos out to full-back, expect to see him involved at Old Trafford. Rating: N\A Likelihood to start in second leg: 8

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