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5 talking points as Manchester United suffer defeat vs Real Madrid (pre-season)



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Credit: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Manchester United suffer their second pre-season loss in two days as Real Madrid secure a 2-0 victory in Huston, Texas.

It was Jude Bellingham who opened the scoring just five minutes into the fixture, bursting past the Manchester United defence and lofting the ball over André Onana from the edge of the area.

The fixture continued to be a competitive one in the opening half, with Erik ten Hag and Carlo Ancelotti’s sides both having chances to score – but as the whistle blew for half-time, it was Bellingham’s goal that separated the two sides.

Read More: Rasmus Højlund’s PSG news shows why he suits Manchester United and Erik ten Hag

United made no changes at half-time, but once the hour mark hit, Ten Hag sent on nine fresh players, with only Bruno Fernandes and Onana remaining from the starting XI.

With not much of note happening in the second half, it was the final minutes that saw Joselu score a wonderful bicycle kick to seal the game for Madrid in the dying moments.

Here are five things learned from the fixture.

#1 – Onana shows his uniqueness during his debut

André Onana made his first start in United colours against Real Madrid, with fans eager to see his performance.

He did concede five minutes into the fixture and right at the end, however, it would be harsh to judge him as both goals were nigh-impossible to save.

One positive to note about Onana’s performance was that, at almost any point in the tie, he was making himself available as an option to pass to, especially in moments when the United defence was under high pressure.

Although it was a mostly quiet night for the new signing apart from the two goals, a few saves combined with his confidence on the ball made for an overall positive debut for Onana.

#2 – An unfortunate early end for Mainoo

When the line-ups were released, many were excited to see that Kobbie Mainoo had been handed yet another start in what was a strong United XI – but after just five minutes, he was replaced by Christian Eriksen.

Mainoo seemed to go down after a collision with Rodrygo, with his ankle hurt. He was carried off by medical staff, and could not put any pressure on his foot.

After watching his performances in recent weeks against the likes of Arsenal and Lyon, Mainoo going off after just four minutes was felt – the youngster is much quicker on the ball than his replacement Eriksen, and this slowed the side down in transition moments.

#3 – Wan-Bissaka was, once again, impressive

After initially being one of the players that United were happy to sell this summer, Wan-Bissaka has been nothing short of impressive in the last six months for the club.

He was probably the most involved player in the first half of the fixture alongside Mason Mount and Bruno Fernandes, with all three players combining on United’s right-hand side on multiple occasions.

As well as defending against Vinicius Jr., Wan-Bissaka has seemingly improved with the ball at his feet, picking good passes, helping in the build-up and the final-third phases, as well as keeping Vinicius at bay where possible.

#4 – There are still kinks to iron

Although the fitness levels of United’s players have clearly improved from the opening pre-season fixture against Leeds United, there are still some places where the squad must improve.

Despite multiple chances, United failed to convert, showing once again their need for a striker as the signing of Rasmus Højlund seemingly draws ever closer.

Beyond that, the midfield still seemed somewhat disjointed, with it being the first time that Mount, Fernandes, and Casemiro have all played together – this should improve as time elapses.

United have three pre-season fixtures remaining before their opening day of the Premier League, where they host Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford.

#5 – Fernandes looks better centrally

In the first 60 minutes, Fernandes operated as a right-winger, with Casemiro, Mount, Mainoo and then Eriksen playing in midfield.

Although he was involved across the whole tie, he looked more effective once the substitutions were made and he moved into the central areas once again.

Fernandes looked somewhat more comfortable receiving the ball in midfield rather than out wide.