The World Cup is here and underway. So far, there have been a couple shocking results but it still feels as if the tournament hasn’t quite taken off yet. Germany and Argentina both suffered shock defeats at the hands of Japan and Saudi Arabia respectively. Let’s hope the rest of the tournament has more shocking results to offer. In the meantime, we need to keep tabs on all the Red Devils in Qatar this winter.
There are 16, nope, sorry bout that, 15 players representing Manchester United at the World cup now. The big Portuguese man is no longer with us. No, not that he’s dead but he’s dead to Eric ten Hag and Manchester United. Regardless, Manchester United is now undergoing a proper reset while our players fight for their countries in Qatar.
So, let’s breakdown the players that have played so far and then preview some of those yet to be seen.
England 6 Iran 2
The Three Lions took three Manchester United players with them to Qatar and all three have featured. Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire got the start for England in their first match of Group B against Iran. Shaw started at left back while Maguire was on the left of a centre back pairing with John Stones. Both players looked decent but it was hard to gauge against such a poor Iran side.
Harry Maguire almost put England ahead early when he put a fantastic header right into the Iranian goal post. But it was Luke Shaw who put in a nice cross for Jude Bellingham in the 35′ who opened up the scoring. Harry Maguire was credited with the assist on England’s second though. But it will be Marcus Rashford who came in as a substitute that will grab all the headlines.
Just a minute after coming onto the pitch Marcus Rashford buried a left footed shot to put England up 5-1. Maguire, Rashford, and Shaw all played very well in England’s opening match, but again, it will be hard to know just how good this English side is until they play some more serious competition.
Denmark 0 Tunisia 0
Manchester United had two players represented in this match, both on opposing sides. Christian Eriksen started in midfield for Denmark, while Hannibal Mejbri came on as a substitute for Tunisia. The match was exceptionally boring though. Denmark were the better side overall but only slightly.
Tunisia shocked some people with this result and managing 13 shots, two more than Denmark. Again, Denmark was better but they were also expected to win comfortably and they didn’t. Eriksen looked good, per usual, but the Danish side just lacks anyone capable of complementing Eriksen’s creativity. The Danes did have a penalty shout in stoppage time for a handball but it was ultimately ruled a free kick by VAR. Denmark will look to get Christian Eriksen even more of the ball in their next match.
Hannibal came on in the 80′ and got just about 18 minutes of game time. There’s not much to write on his appearance but its hard to make any sort of impact when you come on to a team without the ball. Let’s look forward to Hannibal getting more opportunities but we shouldn’t expect much.
France, Netherlands, Argentina
France beat Australia 4-1 but Raphael Varane was on the bench due to recovering from his injury. Although, Les Bleus did look exceptional though. Perhaps Varane could’ve helped sure up the backline as Australia found themselves with good opportunities for most of the match.
The Netherlands got a vital 2-0 win over Senegal in matchday 1. Granted, the Senegal squad is now without Sadio Mane, but are still a good squad given their roster. Unfortunately, Tyrell Malacia did not get to see the pitch and most likely won’t for most of the tournament. At this point in his career, Malacia is seen as a young squad player for his national team.
Argentina, woah, where to even begin. This side looked so good at times but could not finish off any move except when creeping offsides just a bit. It was as if they had no understanding of the offside rule. Perhaps, things may have been different had Lisandro Martinez been offered the starting role over Tottenham reject Cristian Romero. Martinez did come on a substitute but the damage had already been done.
France and the Netherlands are sitting pretty after their first group stage match, but Argentina is now at risk of being blown out of Messi’s last chance for glory in the group stage.
Portugal 3 Ghana 2
Two players were representing United for Portugal in this one. Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes, and only one of them will actually see the field constantly. Bruno Fernandes will be key to Portugal’s success this tournament and will most likely line up as the number 10. While Diogo Dalot is unfortunately behind some pretty top notch talent for the fullback and wingback positions. Expect to see Fernandes starting every match.
Bruno Fernandes showed the world just how important he is to Portugal and United against Ghana. The midfielder was tenacious and created plenty of opportunities for his side. Fernandes earned the assist on two of Portugal’s goal. He was also key to Ronaldo earning the PK for Portugal’s first by putting in a terrific through ball. Ronaldo ended up with the MOTM award, but Fernandes should’ve won it. Bruno Fernandes may end this tournament as the leader in assists.
Portugal is a talented squad and could do some serious damage in this tournament, but unfortunately its been overshadowed by Ronaldo. Now that CR7 and United have mutually agreed to part ways we may be able to just focus on the World Cup at hand.
Brazil 2 Serbia 0
Brazil cruised to a 2-0 victory over Serbia on Thanksgiving day. The tournament favorite looked fully deserving of that title. Casemiro was the only United player to start the match and was essential to how Brazil controlled the midfield. Casemiro looked energetic, industrious and ruthless holding down the Brasilein midfield. Brazil only surrendered 5 shots in the entire match and 0 on target.
This wasn’t as eye opening of a score line as Spain scoring 7 over Costa Rica but it was a performance of champions. Unfortunately for Brazil, Neymar Jr. injured his ankle and could miss some time. Though, being the World Cup, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him play through the injury.
Antony and Fred also got on the pitch as substitutes and slotted right into the side. Fred looked energetic as always and even got in a decent attempt on goal. Meanwhile, Antony came on for the injured Neymar jr. and looked dangerous. Of course, Brazil need Neymar to get healthy and come back ASAP but Antony looked ferocious. Look for Brazil to start utilizing Antony more and more as the tournament goes on.
Last but definitely least
Facundo Pellistri also represented United at the World Cup today for Uruguay. Pellistri started on the right of a front 3 and put in 88 minutes before being subbed off. Facundo had an excellent run and cut back pass played to Nunez but the Liverpool forward failed to take the chance and denied Facundo an assist. The young kid looked lively in his performance for Uruguay but still shows signs of his inexperience at the highest level, perhaps he’ll begin to see more game time under Eric ten Hag should he continue to put in performances like this.
So, the first round of the World Cup is over and now some fates will be decided. Argentina and Germany are both in danger of crashing out of the tournament in only their second match, while teams like Saudi Arabia and Japan can cement their spots in the next round.
On Friday November 25th the English lads will take on the USA. Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw should all play a role. Meanwhile Tyrell Malacia will hope to see some game time for the Netherlands against Ecuador.
Let’s hope the United players at this tournament can all leave this tournament happy, healthy and in top form. But, also, GO GO USA!