Cristiano Ronaldo´s Instant Impact • Manchester United vs Newcastle United

•Creating Space
•Off-Ball Movements
•Linking Play

The following is a thread highlighting the impact Ronaldo made in his first appearance for Manchester United in 12 years. A match in which he achieved the following:
•2 goals from 1.29 xG
•91% passing
•5/6 dribbles
•Most touches in penalty area (8)
As mentioned in the opening tweet, I will only be focusing on his influence in possession for this thread.

Heat map from @SofaScoreINT
🔴Creating Space

Opposition defenders are extremely aware of Ronaldo´s positioning. Something he takes advantage of quite often and attempts to drag defenders out of position to create space for others to run into.
In this first example, when occupying the defender on the last line, simply by dropping in between the lines, he drags out the centre back & creates a space behind for Bruno to run into.
A similar situation here, however this time he starts a bit deeper. Greenwood plays a 1-2 with Ronaldo, & of course anytime he receives in these areas opposition defenders instantly jump to pressure him, again creating space in behind - this time the final pass doesn´t come off.
With Sancho carrying down the wing, Ronaldo recognises Sancho will draw extra defenders. He drops into space, allowing for Bruno advance centrally, receives and plays Bruno through for a long distance opportunity.
Lovely example here. In the 1st image he sees the run of Sancho from behind. An instant change of direction across the face of the defender leaves him no choice but to follow, dragging him out & leaving acres of space for Sancho. Poor execution on the pass from Bruno however.
By subtle readjustments to his positioning, Ronaldo manages to occupy 2 defenders attention. This leaves Sancho once again free at the back post area, & the pass from Bruno this time puts Sancho into space in the box.
🔴Off-Ball Movements

Ronaldo is almost always looking for quantitative & positional superiorities. He does pick & choose times for movements & rest, but when he makes his movements they are clearly well planned out.
A few subtle steps towards the ball - to draw out the defender & create space in behind to attack, as well as communicate with Bruno the run is coming. Doesn´t quite come off in the end, but good timing & change of speed.
A corner routing where Ronaldo´s initial positioning is behind Pogba. Pogba´s role is to block Ronald´s marker from following him close, & Ronaldo manages to cut inside nearly getting to the flick across goal from the front post header.
Nothing comes from this run at all, but again he does well to position himself on the blindside of the defender & time his run to perfection if AWB was able to play the ball in behind here.
Ronaldo does so well to force opposition defenders to switch their marking responsibilities. Making blindside runs & runs across the face. In this situation he does both, drifting in between the 2 DEF towards the back post, & changing direction towards the front post.
The first goal. Extreme killer instinct inside the box. Attacking the 2nd ball BEFORE the shot is even struck, keeper looks to have possession & both NEW defenders give up on the play, all the while Ronaldo sneaks in behind & opens the scoring.
🔴Linking Play

I was not completely sure what to expect from Ronaldo, assuming he would tend to stretch the backline & occupy defenders. There were some situations where he did quite well to drop-in, receive, & aid in progression to the final third.
Here is dropped in quite deep into the MF, with Bruno advanced ahead of him. A line breaking pass from Matic and pass over to Bruno allows United to progress into the final third.
A similar situation here, this time gets the ball off Bruno, plays support to Matic, & Matic is able to break the lines again to an overlapping AWB.
Great awareness here, Ronaldo sees Sancho start to make a run in behind towards goal. To help with forward passing options, Ronaldo drops in, receives, and plays the ball out wide to Shaw who finds himself in the space vacated by Sancho.

Ronaldo popped up in pretty much every position across the front 4. A fluid system allowing him to rotate with Sancho, Bruno and Greenwood. Some decent understanding among them already in the first match.
Good timing & initiative from Ronaldo, rotating down the left with Sancho to start the match.
Bruno, who typically likes to take up advanced positions as the furthest forward attacker, often made these little rotations with Ronaldo who came short while Bruno went in behind.

Ronaldo is well known to be a leader on the pitch. Often the captain, he is not only vocal - but in this match already began taking lots of responsibility to direct traffic & keep the ball ticking over.
Not only aware of his own surroundings, Ronaldo was often seen giving instructions - and his team mates were happy to oblige. Here, a point to Pogba who ends up receiving the pass, while Ronaldo pushes higher up the pitch.
Perhaps a bit hard to see in this first image, but Ronaldo is waving Matic on to attack the space ahead of the block. Matic carries forward, drawing out a defender & slipping the pass into Bruno between the lines.
Again, Ronaldo offers some directional advice, Sancho drops in & Shaw finds him in space after following the instructions of Ronaldo.
United struggled to create & take advantage of overloads on the wings. Here Ronaldo pushes Sancho forwards, drops in to receive, & United progress forward creating a 3v2 down the left wing.
Shaw looking like he is about to dribble into an underload situation here, Ronaldo simply points back to Pogba for support, & Shaw recycles possession to the centre of the pitch.
Unfortunately due to time constraints, I will only be putting out the analysis for the first half as seen above. There seemed to be some decent interest in the analysis from yesterday so I thought this would be better than nothing 👍

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