Manchester United slipped to a 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup Final last night – here, FantasySports.co.uk takes a look at some of the United key men and how they fared – and how this may help, or hinder, them as the new Premier League season gets underway this weekend.
Lukaku scored the United goal, in the 62nd minute, but could have barely missed it such was the simplicity of the chance. He had, around ten minutes earlier, missed a glorious opportunity when a Pogba headed effort rebounded directly to Lukaku but he blazed it wide. But at least the second half was better than the first, where Lukaku was dominated by the Madrid defence, and was heavily criticized for chasing a through ball knowing he was in an offside position – when by staying put he would have allowed an on rushing Ander Herrera to pick up the loose ball and probably slip Lukaku in on goal. The Belgian will need to improve his focus and finishing if he wants to become the darling of the Old Trafford faithful and justify the huge fee paid for him. Not a great start though.
Another game where Pogba flatters to deceive. Playing in a midfield trio with Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrara, and having the nippy Jesse Lingard and skilful Henrikh Mkhitaryan patrolling the flanks, Pogba could have used this to demonstrate his orchestration of the midfield – linking play and creating chances as he did so splendidly at Juventus. But again, we saw a listless and ineffective Pogba, who wasted several excellent opportunities by going it alone or overplaying the ball. Improved in the second half, especially when Fellaini was introduced, but again, United fans will be expecting much, much more from a player who oozes class in a France national shirt, and before Neymar’s move to PSG, held the world record fee for a player. United need him at his best….quickly.
Arguably United’s star man on the night. Matic did everything in United red that he did in Chelsea blue, and you struggle to think of many reasons why Chelsea would let him go to a title rival, as he instantly improves United. Stood firm in that holding role, breaking up many dangerous Madrid moves, making simple yet effective, positive passes to turn defence into attack, and looked worth every penny that United paid for him. A superb performance and one that will leave United fans purring with delight and very excited to see the difference he will make for them. However, Mourinho must get the balance of his midfield partners right, or Matic may be fighting a losing battle through no fault of his own.
Its unclear whether Lindelof would have played last night if Eric Bailly and/or Phil Jones were available, let alone the injured Marcos Rojo. But Lindelof did play, and United fans will be thankful he will not have to face as pure a Madrid attack again, unless their crosses path in the Champions League. Lindelof was caught ball watching for the Madrid first goal, unaware of Casemiro’s presence behind him from Carvajal’s superb cross, and on many occasions was left mesmorised by the fluidity of the Madrid attack, with opponents seeming to get behind him at will. A baptism of fire for sure, and Lindelof wasn’t alone in looking a class below his opponents, but it wasn’t a hugely inspiring performance or one that will fill United fans full of confidence.
Rashford didn’t enter the fray until the second half, replacing the ineffective Jesse Lingard in a wide left position. United went 2-0 down quickly and it looked like they may get swamped – but Rashford helped pull things round for United and injected some much needed pace and directness at Madrid. He created one glorious chance for himself, driving into the area but pulling his shot wide with the goal seemingly at his mercy, but, again, Rashford showed Madrid little respect and that is exactly how anyone in a United shirt should play. Guilty of a few ‘rash’ challenges – but as with last season, Rashford can show up any defence and create – and score – chances aplenty. It will be interesting to see how Mourinho utilises him, because United certainly look better with Rashford on the pitch, rather than sitting on the bench.
Overall, United were despatched with quite some ease by their illustrious opponents, who, on that basis, look again the team to beat for the Champions League. Although the game became raggy and United did have more about them in the second half and could have forced extra-time, it doesn’t hide the fact that United are still some way off this pace and need their big names to step up quickly if they are to make inroads into the Premier League and Champions League trophy hunt.
United open their Premier League campaign on Sunday, with a home fixture against West Ham United.
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