Thanks in large part to the retrenched approach of Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United, Wednesday's first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal clash between the Red Devils and Barcelona didn't produce the attacking fireworks that many had expected. For 90 minutes, Barcelona absolutely camped itself inside the United third of the field but found its thick defensive wall impenetrable. United defended extremely well, but produced none of the attacking fluency which it's been noted for this season. In the end, this was a victory of tactics over style.
Rob Hughes of the International Herald Tribune points out that the 0-0 result is exactly what Ferguson will have wanted after his side fell 3-0 away to AC Milan in last year's semifinal return leg.
At that time, Ferguson had said that his team was young and naive in the ways of European defending. It's no wonder that after Wednesday's clash, the master tactician kept repeating: "Nil-nil going
to Old Trafford for the second leg, it's a marvelous chance." In other words, expect the real United to stand up for Tuesday's clash.