Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo Champions League Tactical Analysis

The results of last night’s long-awaited UEFA Champions League draw means that Manchester United have been pitted in a fiercely competitive group featuring Juventus, Valencia, and BSC Young Boys.

The draw sees United’s French midfield maestro Paul Pogba will return to Turin to face his old club, Juventus. While Cristiano Ronaldo will also re-visit his former club, a reunion many thought wouldn’t happen in a Juve shirt.

United suffered a forgettable Champions League campaign last year, toppling out of the competition at the hands of Sevilla. The side has failed to show any form of progression since, but will look to come out swinging this time.

Cristiano’s most recent return to Old Trafford was way back in 2013 – which just shows how far United have fallen since then.

United are a much different team now – for better or worse. However, Cristiano has also got off to a slow start in the Italian league, which begs the question: Should United be worried about facing the Portuguese star once again? Let’s take a look:

United vs Real Madrid vs Juventus: Statistics Comparison

Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo Champions League Tactical Analysis Statistics

Due to each team playing in a varying number of games in the Champions League last season, I thought it was fair to compare each statistic per 90 metrics.

In terms of goals scored, it’s unsurprising that Real Madrid come out on top. However, United managed to better Cristiano’s new club, sitting ahead of them by 0.22.

With the average number of goals conceded, Jose’s defensive tactics come to fruition. United managed to concede an impressive 0.63 goals per game, while both Real and Juve conceded 1.18 and 1.20 per 90 metrics.

Despite Mourinho’s men being criticised for their lack of attacking prowess under the Special One, United manage to again beat Juventus in the number of chances created. The Reds tallied 9.62 per 90 metrics, while Juve managed 9.40.

Again, unsurprisingly, Madrid steamroll their way in front, managing a whopping 14.64 chances created per 90 metrics.

Based on the statistics, it seems United may not have had that bad of a Champions League campaign last year. However, we know this not to be the case.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League statistics last season (as a goalscorer)

Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo Champions League Tactical Analysis Statistics

It will be no shock for most of you to see that Cristiano Ronaldo tops the comparison when it comes to how clinical he is in front of goal.

When compared to our other choice of strikers, he trumps them all in both goals scored (1.36) and total shots (6.73) per 90 metrics. A keen eye for goal has awarded Ronaldo with three consecutive Champions League trophies, despite not scoring in this year’s final against Liverpool.

However, in terms of shot accuracy, it’s Gonzalo Higuain who leads with a clinical percentage of 76% compared to Ronaldo’s 51%.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League statistics last season (as a playmaker)

Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo Champions League Tactical Analysis Statistics

As a playmaker, Cristiano’s dominance over the others is less decisive. A major criticism of his game in the past few seasons has been his transition from unselfish provider to greedy goalscorer – not that I’m criticising this transition, he’s certainly had the returns.

Instead, he and Lukaku both trade off for who comes out on top. Lukaku comes out on top of key passes and chances created with 1.66 in each, while Ronaldo narrowly edges the assists chart with 0.27 per 90 metrics and pass completion with 81%.

However, the dark horse of the bunch is Marcus Rashford. The youngster played much fewer minutes in the same number of games as Lukaku, but his overall statistics are much more promising.

Rashford beats Ronaldo by 0.03 in chances created per 90 metrics, as well as key passes by 0.04. The assists statistic is also extremely close, with just 0.01 separating the two.

Ronaldo’s start to life in Italy

It’s been a rough start to Cristiano Ronaldo’s career at the Old Lady – well, for his standards anyway. The 33-year-old has failed to score in both of the side’s games in Serie A so far. Although, he has managed to tally an assist.

It’s clear that Max Allegri is building his squad around Ronaldo, playing him as a sole number nine with Paulo Dybala behind him in their last game against Chievo.

Ronaldo tallied the highest number of shots in the match with nine, four of which were on target. In the previous match against Lazio, he again achieved the highest number of shots in the game by a rather wide margin (six).


Few things are certain in life: Death, taxes, and Ronaldo scoring in the Champions League.

However, Juventus’ exploits in the pinnacle competition club football in recent years have been disappointing. They’ve certainly had the firepower to go and win the tournament, yet have fallen at the final hurdle many times.

In the recruitment of Cristiano Ronaldo, they have a player who knows exactly what to do to breeze through to the latter stages of the competition. However, he needs to have those around him firing on all cylinders if he is to reach his best.

United have quite the job on their hands in dealing with Cristiano Ronaldo on his return to Old Trafford. Only the most Mourinho of Mourinho tactics will be enough.

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? That’s right, 0-0.