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Eyebrows were raised following Patrice Evra’s selection in David Moyes’ team to face Bayern Munich. In fact, before kick-off, some United fans were even happy to discuss the possibility of Alexander Buttner starting in his place.
The veteran Frenchman turned from hero to the proverbial villain in little over a minute on an anxious night for the Red Devils, as ultimately the Manchester outfit were blown out of the water by their formidable opponents.
On an individual level, his display provided further evidence as to why he should be moved on in the summer. At 32 years of age his positioning and lack of pace have been issues for United throughout the entire season and this eventually proved to be his undoing against the holding European champions.
In the first half, however, Evra proved defensively sound. Charged with the role of marking ever-tricky wide-man Arjen Robben, he gave a good showing of himself. Pep Guardiola had clearly given the Dutchman the instruction to get himself on the ball whenever possible and to target the weakness in David Moyes’ system: Evra. The winger enjoyed more possession in the return leg, it has to be said, and the majority of Bayern attacks developed down the right-hand side.
Evra dealt with this threat superbly throughout the first half, with Robben failing to offer any real challenge to David De Gea’s goal. The Frenchman was very much confined to the defensive third of the pitch, yet he did well to fulfil a difficult task. He completed four tackles, whilst weighing in with four interceptions and three clearances. Like the rest of his team-mates, he was forced to play deep while Bayern dominated possession in the Red Devils' half.
After an impressive opening 45 minutes, the Frenchman then produced the moment of the tie, finishing off a rare passing move from the visitors with a stupendous strike, just 12 minutes into the second half.
The Allianz Arena was left stunned as Antonio Valencia beat his man on the right to cross into the box where the ball was cleared only as far as Evra, who raced to the edge of the area and smashed a strike on the half-volley past an unsuspecting Manuel Neuer.
The Frenchman provided useful attacking support down the left throughout the match and at times he proved a substantial threat. In a match of limited chances for the visitors, he pushed forward well on the counter, as his heat map (below) shows, with his efforts culminating in this goal.
However, despite the initial jubilation, his strike proved catastrophic to United’s chances. The visitors fell apart immediately after the left-back’s goal, with Bayern responding within seconds. From the kick-off, the ball found its way to Ribery on the left and Mario Mandzukic stooped in front of Evra to head his low cross beyond De Gea.
The Frenchman in particular suffered from a considerable lapse of concentration. He wouldn’t have been expected to beat Bayern’s Croatian forward in the air, but he will be have to accept responsibility for the opposition’s second and third goals.
Of course, it was the magnificence of Arjen Robben that ultimately forced United out of contention. Evra proved powerless to his skill and pace in the second period and the Dutchman was able to manipulate the space provided by his opponent’s deficiencies.
Within 10 minutes of equalising, Bayern were ahead. Robben’s cross found Thomas Mueller, who rolled the ball past De Gea from within the six-yard box. The Dutchman had not been closed down by Evra during this move and, as a result, he had the time and space to pick out the perfect pass.
He thrives in a one-on-one situation and we saw this in action as he bagged Bayern’s third goal of the evening. He skipped inside United's left-back with ease, before taking the ball beyond Nemanja Vidic and firing into the back of the net.
Evra completed just one of five attempted tackles throughout the second period and unfortunately for United this proved evident in the scoreline. Moyes’ side became too open at the back following the visitors' opening strike and the two Bayern wingers, Robben in particular, exploited this space expertly.
Ultimately, it was a poor second half showing for the Frenchman, who proved to onlookers that he is no longer capable of playing at the highest level. Bayern were effectively cruising before the opening goal, before operating a military-like attacking operation that Evra proved helpless to prevent.
- Sports & Recreation
- Patrice Evra
- Bayern Munich
- Arjen Robben
- Manchester United