By Harry Ogilvie
- Lukaku, Lindelof and Matic all named in starting line-up
- Lukaku notches second-half goal
Manchester United faced Real Madrid in their final preparation game ahead of the Premier League kick-off. The two sides contested the European Super Cup after winning Europe’s two elite competitions last season.
Real came into this game looking to add another European Super Cup to their cabinet and successfully defend the trophy.
While Manchester United were contested the Super Cup for the first time since 2009. Despite the game being for a trophy it will be viewed by many as United’s final pre-season game.
Mourinho Named All Three New Arrivals In Starting Line-Up
Jose Mourinho fielded a strong team against the current European champions. His side included all three of the reds’ new signings: Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Serbian defensive midfielder, Nemanja Matic.
The Portuguese boss also opted for the formation 3-5-2 with Lingard and Valencia operating as wing-backs. Mkhitaryan and Lukaku were in the most advanced roles with United’s strongest midfield three behind them. This three consisted of Matic, Herrera and of course, Paul Pogba.
Mourinho opted for a back three of Darmian, Smalling and Lindelof due to the suspension of Eric Bailly after his red card in the Europa League semi final.
Phil Jones was also suspended for verbally abusing a doping officer after being told to come for drug tests after the Europa League final, when United players were paying tribute to the victims of the Manchester terror attacks.
The Boss’s selection left a very strong bench of players for him to choose from, should the game be going against his side. Some of the players on the bench included Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford.
Real Madrid also appeared to have fielded their strongest team minus Cristiano Ronaldo. Who would start on the bench after being involved in the Confederation Cup earlier in the summer and only returning to training a couple of days ago.
Real Take Control
The game began fairly evenly despite the fact Zidane’s men had the majority of possession.
Both sides looked dangerous when attacking with United looking the more shaky of the two defensively in the opening exchanges.
Jose’s side appeared to be dealing with the threats of Isco and Modric in the opening twenty minutes. However, as the game progressed. Isco began to find pockets of space allowing Real to dominate the midfield and comfortably keep possession.
This eventually led to the deadlock being broken from a debatably offside goal from Casemiro after an exceptional ball over the top from Dani Carvajal. When he found an abundance of space to delicately lob the ball into the box.
From the twenty minute mark onwards, Real dominated, creating chances regularly with classy passes and forward play. Despite this, United appeared to come out slightly more positive and fired up in the second half.
Although, United were keeping the ball better and looking threatening, Real Madrid were still creating chances.
They were made to pay for their lack of defensive stability when Isco played a beautiful, incisive one-two with Gareth Bale before slotting the ball into the corner, past David De Gea.
The reds retaliated in sixty second minute when Lukaku pounced on the loose ball after Keylor Navas failed to grasp a powerful effort from outside the box by Nemanja Matic.
Unfortunately, this goal was not enough to change things for Jose’s side as Real expertly ran down the clock, getting fouls left, right and centre.
The best performance from any man in a red shirt definitely came from newcomer, Nemanja Matic. The holding midfielder appeared unfazed and composed when in possession and played several neat passes. As well as retaining the ball and tracking back effectively too.
The 29 year old displayed exactly why Mourinho brought him to United. There was vast amounts of praise for the former Chelsea man on social media, hailing his performance as a “standout” and “absolutely brilliant”.
Matteo Darmian was another very impressive performer playing as the left centre back in the three. This game very much highlighted his versatility and his ability to put in a quality performance no matter where he plays in defence.
The Italian is clearly an asset to Mourinho and his squad. It is safe to say if he was to leave. He would be a bigger loss than most realise. The other two centre backs: Lindelof and Smalling also looked in good form with both making several blocks and clearances.
The Swede also appeared composed when passing out from the back despite looking shaky when defending at times.
Spanish shot-stopper, David De Gea also looked in fine fettle making a series of superb saves. The ex-Atletico keeper’s best save came in the ninety third minute from Marco Asensio who struck the ball well. Only for De Gea’s superb reaction save to tip the ball over the bar.
Real Madrid really showed their quality and highlighted the fact United are still a fair distance away from their level. There was also some promising signs including the debutants performances. Lukaku’s goal specifically even if he did not play his greatest game.
Jose Mourinho will also learn plenty from tonight’s game and help him realise where the team needs to improve before the Premier League opening game on Sunday against West Ham.
This test highlighted the fact the United hierarchy need to be dipping into the transfer market again for a goalscoring winger and a dynamic full back.
The most worrying element about the match was the fact we are still struggling to be clinical and take our chances. Which was the main reason for our disappointing league campaign last year.
However, I also believe Mourinho will have a plan to improve this, hopefully including Anthony Martial who is always a major goal threat on his day.
Looking towards the West Ham match. I can see a fair few changes being made with the likes of Bailly, Mata and Martial coming into the side to freshen it up.
Although the result was not particularly positive. There are still quite a few reasons to be optimistic. Especially considering the fact we were playing the best club side in the world.