By Mark Weasley
Manchester United rounded up pre-season tour of the USA with a 1-0 loss against Spanish giants, Barcelona, which manager Jose Mourinho said was good for his team, as they would use the experience to learn how to play against the big boys of Europe.
United had won against Manchester City and Real Madrid, but were strangely subdued against the Catalans. An error by Antonio Valencia ensured that Brazilian striker, Neymar, slotted in his third goal in pre-season despite his links to PSG. However, the match on Washington was not all doom and gloom for United, now, we take a look at some positives we can take from the defeat.
United are more resolute
This pre-season has shown that United will get better as a unit, as we have lost just once in five matches. The determination to fight for the jersey is back, and if not for an uncharacteristic error from Antonio Valencia, we might have earned a win. The defence looks solid, except for Victor Lindelof, who has endured a torrid start to his United career. The second half was more even after the exit of the MSN as United terrorised Barcelona’s goal, though without success.
This new found resoluteness was evident last season, as we went 25 matches unbeaten, but United will get better on the back of this.
Pogba-Lukaku partnership looking strong
Two friends who cost a combined £164m are enjoying their bromance on the pitch, with the 24-year-olds looking to continue what will be a good partnership. Pogba found Lukaku on some occasions with nice passes, but the Big Belgian looks the part but struggled to find space to do damage against Barcelona’s defence.
Lukaku will do well to impose himself on more formidable opposition after failing to get in the scoresheet against Real Madrid last week, but with Pogba behind him, he trusts that he will get passes to score goals that will propel the club to a new era of success.
De Gea looks calm
Despite reports linking him to Real Madrid for the umpteenth time this summer, Spanish international, David de Gea, was in fine form against the 5-time European champions, saving from Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, but was powerless to prevent the Brazilian’s goal.
Real Madrid have been linked to his signature, but Mourinho has stated that his goalkeeper is not for sale, and against Barcelona, he was an unflappable presence, repelling countless attacks before being withdrawn for Sergio Romero in the 45th minute.