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Champions League Hits and Misses: Same Old Song for United, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is Chelsea’s MVP

It’s like seeing Manchester United again, and there’s nothing new to say about them. The Holy Grail 3-5-2 that helped them beat Tottenham on Saturday lasted just over half an hour at Atalanta, and it seems like we’re just back to square one for the nth time.

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Ronaldo and the same old questions

Straits times

Even though United’s 2-2 draw in Bergamo on Tuesday ended somewhere in the middle, it still managed to raise the same old worries about Ole Gunnar Solskjr and his team.

Individual performances were so awful that you have to question how poor the Spurs squad was. Defensively, they were a nightmare and a total shadow of the team, denying Tottenham a single shot on goal on Saturday, with individual performances so poor that you had to wonder how poor the Spurs team was.

In Italy, the absence of Raphael Varane did not force Harry Maguire into any more of the fundamental errors that have become all too common since his return from injury last month.

For many who follow all the latest Singapore news in sports, it’s clear that United would be in serious difficulty in Group F without Cristiano Ronaldo’s particular brilliance, regardless of the issues he may pose to Solskjr in general, and it needed two moments of magic from the striker to dig them out of a hole with the team’s performance. Still no closer to a well-executed game plan bringing success.

Is there going to be a definitive answer?

Paul Pogba continued to disappoint and was a waste of time against Atalanta, even by his own standards, before being substituted by Solskjr in front of Scott McTominay, who had previously received a caution and was on his final warning from the referee.

Maybe the Frenchman’s manager’s patience is wearing thin, but why now? Why not the several other instances he has demonstrated accountability?

According to a Straits Times article, after Cristiano Ronaldo saved his club in their Champions League tie in Atalanta, Ole Gunnar Solskjr compared Cristiano Ronaldo’s influence at Manchester United to NBA legend Michael Jordan’s at the Chicago Bulls.

All of these issues have dogged United for years, and as Solskjr prepares to usher in the next ‘new dawn,’ the club is beginning to wonder if it is simply another ruse.

It must be aggravating for Manchester United supporters that these are the same questions that keep cropping up. Even more concerning is the fact that they still do not appear to be any closer to a conclusive answer.

If United advances to the quarterfinals, just as Liverpool demonstrated how Ronaldo’s magic can only go so far, Europe’s top may demonstrate the same.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek got a start for Chelsea

Chelsea worked hard during their 1-0 win in Malmö, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who played a bigger role, had a particularly good night. An article on the AsiaOne Singapore website suggests that he seems to be systematically putting himself into Thomas Tuchel’s side on a regular basis.

The 25-year-old made his first Champions League start in six years, and he did precisely what he was sent in to do: add another dimension to Chelsea’s midfield.

After 32 minutes, Bonke Innocent took advantage of a lapse in the home side’s left defense. He outshone the home team’s goalkeeper and scored another goal for the visitors.

Many of Tuchel’s players have spent time in the cold or on loan during their careers. Loftus-Cheek exemplifies this perfectly. His loan spell at a struggling Fulham last season hinted he was far from playing on that stage again during a turbulent moment at Chelsea.

He did, however, demonstrate the force, enthusiasm, and drive that Jorginho and Matteo Kovacic do not often possess. Because his body has been broken in the past, the midfielder must maintain his fitness this season.