Champions League Tactical Preview: Ronaldo to condemn Man Utd to defeat

Cristiano Ronaldo scores for Juventus.
Ronaldo should be dominant up against Ashley Young.
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Alex Keble looks ahead to Wednesday's fourth round of Champions League group matches and predicts Man Utd will lose against Juventus once again...

"However, the biggest issue is clearly down the left flank where Cristiano Ronaldo plays at the Juventus Stadium. Max Allegri will switch to a 4-3-3 here, pitting Ronaldo up against the slow and under-performing Ashley Young."

Rafinha's movement crucial to break down reinforced Inter midfield

Inter v Barcelona
Tuesday, 20:00, Live on BT Sport ESPN

The second leg of this one is likely to closely follow the pattern of the first, in which Barcelona dominated possession but struggled to break down a compact defensive blockade. Inter's defensive instincts will again kick in, and this time Luciano Spalletti is likely to switch from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3, further consolidating midfield.

Joao Mario was unavailable for Barca's 2-0 win in Spain, but is back here to form a flat three with Marcelo Brozovic and Martias Vecino. That should increase the difficulty of Barca's task, meaning they will need another excellent floating performance from Rafinha to find gaps. A fortnight ago, the Brazilian dropped deep and infield to collect the ball and dribble through the middle; his one-two with Luis Suarez opened the scoring, before Jordi Alba capitalised late on after Inter opened up in their search for a equaliser.

A notable issue two weeks ago was Barcelona's inability to get in behind, with Suarez and Philippe Coutinho both dropping off the front line to collect the ball. A similar issue is likely to arise here, creating a low-scoring game, particularly given that Rafinha's contributions have been limited since that Champions League goal.


Disorganised PSV midfield is vulnerable to Eriksen and Kane

Spurs v PSV
Tuesday, 20:00, Live on BT Sport 2

Two major errors, one from Toby Alderwiereld for the first goal and Hugo Lloris's red card, cost Tottenham a match they should easily have won a fortnight ago. PSV, who are used to playing attacking football on the front foot (they've won all 11 league games), really aren't very good at sitting back and absorbing pressure.

Spurs should be fine on home soil. PSV's biggest issue was defending the number ten space, with their two-man midfield often struggling to close down quickly enough or stay tight to the back four - which is perfectly understandable given they rarely have to do this in the Netherlands. Jorrit Hendrix and Pablo Rosario average 2.0 interceptions between them per Eredivisie match.

Christian Eriksen was dominant two weeks ago, easily creating chances from this area of the pitch. With Harry Kane dropping off in support and Dele Alli making runs for Eriksen to find, a simple win for Mauricio Pochettino seems the most likely outcome.


Timid United to struggle with Ronaldo v Young key battle

Juventus v Man Utd
Wednesday, 20:00, Live on BT Sport 2

Bournemouth should have been 3-0 up within 20 minutes at the weekend as Man Utd struggled to get to grips with yet another game. The main reason for this is Jose Mourinho's cautious defensive tactics; he tells his players not to press high, which invites pressure and creates timidity within the ranks. Juventus, a dominant force on home soil, should overwhelm the hosts in Turin.

Assuming United are as disorganised as usual, they will have problems all over the pitch. However, the biggest issue is clearly down the left flank where Cristiano Ronaldo plays at the Juventus Stadium. Max Allegri will switch to a 4-3-3 here, pitting Ronaldo up against the slow and under-performing Ashley Young.

Young weas easily dribbled past by Ryan Fraser on Saturday, partly because he isn't quick enough and partly because he was left two-on-one with Fraser and Charlie Daniels, the two players combining constantly to good effect (Juan Mata never tracks back). Ronaldo, then, should easily dominate on that side of the pitch to hand Juve a relatively straightforward win.


Aggressive Shakhtar to be torn apart by ruthless Man City

Man City v Shakhtar Donetsk
Wednesday, 20:00, Live on BT Sport 3

A confrontational defensive approach had served Shakhtar well in two 2-2 draws with Hoffenheim and Lyon, but their aggression - characterised by pouring forward in numbers on the break and playing with a two-man midfield that is clearly overworked - led to a demolition by Man City two weeks ago. The Premier League champions created the majority of their good chances on the counter-attack, breaking easily beyond the Shakhtar midfield and outnumbering the Ukranian defence.

Riyad Mahrez, an excellent counter-attacking weapon used as such on several occasions by Pep Guardiola this season, will look to receive sweeping long balls on the break. Bernardo Silva's pace through the centre will also prove useful, as will the intelligent runs of Leroy Sane. This could be a serious rout at the Etihad.

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