Manchester United suffered their first setback of an otherwise promising pre-season campaign, with Atletico Madrid coming out on top on a sunny day in Norway.
In the end, the English outfit lacked a clinical finishing edge to make the key difference. Joao Felix, who is making a habit of scoring against United, found the breakthrough goal towards the end of the game in a simply gorgeous fashion.
Here were the takeaways from the fixture:
1. United Lacked Depth
Jadon Sancho missed this game due to illness, forcing Erik ten Hag to resort to Anthony Elanga and Facundo Pellistri for the game. This exposes a key issue that United have going into the new season – the absence of depth up-front, especially in specialist flank positions.
2. Frontline Woes
The absence of frontline depth likewise reflected poorly on the ability of the attack to make the most out of the squad’s effort elsewhere. In particular, United had an impeccable midfield showing throughout the game. The introduction of Christian Eriksen, in particular, injected much creativity into the forward play.
However, the likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford could not provide the attacking edge required to make the difference despite the strong showing.
3. Christian Eriksen Shines
The bargain for which United have secured Eriksen’s services could not have been better captured than through the few minutes he spent on the pitch during his televised pre-season debut. The Dane was impressive in a prior showing, but against Madrid, he nearly had two assists to his name with his first two touches of the ball.
Be it as a starter or as a regular substitute, the 30-year-old, could make a lot of difference in the side’s approach in this campaign.
4. Passion On Show
The multiple brawls on the field show the kind of passion that United could boast under Ten Hag. Many supporters took to Twitter to explain how cathartic it felt to see a team take Madrid’s attitude to them. Now as is often the case, one needs to wait and see whether it is all sound and no fury.