Wednesday 26 October 2016

Five things we learned from Man United's win over Barcelona: Darmian and Blind shine

Published 26/07/2015 | 10:01

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against FC Barcelona during the first half of an International Champions Cup soccer match in Santa Clara
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against FC Barcelona during the first half of an International Champions Cup soccer match in Santa Clara

Manchester United 3 Barcelona 1 - Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian shine and why there should be no concerns over David de Gea's focus.

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1. Blind emerging as centre-half solution

Louis van Gaal has made no secret of his preference for a left-sided centre-half at the heart of his defence and the summer tour of the United States has delivered a heavy hint that Daley Blind may be the surprise choice to fill that role at the start of the season.

With Marcos Rojo’s pre-season disrupted by his involvement in the Copa America, Blind has started every game so far on tour, forming a partnership with Phil Jones.

Jones and Chris Smalling looked to have formed a promising partnership towards the end of last season, but Blind’s versatility and ability on the ball are big pluses and it would be no surprise if the Dutchman lines up at centre-half against Tottenham on the opening day of the Premier League season.


2. FIFA should give next World Cup to USA

It remains one of football’s great mysteries as to how Qatar won the race to host the 2022 World Cup ahead of the United States.

Manchester United vs FC Barcelona Goals and Highlights - 2015 International Champions CupSuper Highlights

Posted by Super Highlights on Saturday, July 25, 2015

But with the bidding process for 2026 due to commence soon, the impressive Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara offers further proof of the USA’s ability to hold the biggest and best World Cup possible.

The USA is blessed with a vast array of super stadia, with the Giants Stadium in New Jersey, the Dallas Cowboys’ home in Arlington, Texas, the Big House in Michigan and this $1bn arena in California all capable of hosting showcasing the best of America’s stadiums.

The States could comfortably host two World Cups at the same time, so the country should be the front-runner for 2026.


3. No concerns over De Gea's focus

Few people expected David de Gea to play another game for Manchester United when he limped off against Arsenal at the end of last season, least of all the goalkeeper.

But with his move to Real Madrid so far not happening, the 24-year-old finally returned to action for United against Barcelona in Santa Clara and his performance showed that he can be relied upon to give 100 per cent for the club this season, regardless of his desire to return to Spain.

In the first-half, De Gea made a number of crucial saves and blocks to deny Barca and his presence brought calm to the United defence.

With the season two weeks away, United will hope that they can rely on De Gea to be around for the whole of the campaign.


4. Luis Suarez is getting better

For all of Luis Suarez’s negative qualities, there can be no denying that the Uruguayan is a sensational footballer and he appears to be getting better and better at Barcelona.

On a day when his attacking partners, Lionel Messi and Neymar, were not involved, Suarez was at the heart of everything for Barca and he was constant menace to the United back-four with his twisting and turning, pace and determination to chase every loose ball.

For a pre-season friendly, Suarez’s effort was off the scale and he gave Phil Jones and Daley Blind a serious work-out in the searing California heat.

Suarez hit the post twice in the first-half and showed just why he is one of the world’s most lethal strikers.


5. Darmian has solved United's right-back problems

Manchester United have been unconvincing on the right side of defence ever since Gary Neville called time on his career in 2011, but Matteo Darmian is showing all the signs of being the solution to their problems in that department.

The Italian masters the basics of defending, but his pace and height give United further qualities and strengths that they have lacked for too long.

At 25, Darmian could become United’s right-back for the next five years and also restore the stability and certainty of the Neville era.

Antonio Valencia, naturally a right-winger, has filled in at full-back, but Darmian showed again against Barcelona that he will be upgrade on the Ecuadorean.


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