The Spanish rivalry within the Manchester Derby

Juan Mata

As Manchester United and Manchester City get set to play in another edition of the Manchester derby on Saturday at Old Trafford. It will be the first Manchester derby between managers Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. Both sides come into the derby with three wins out of three matches played in this Premier League season. Winning a Derby is more than just three points (or a six-pointer depending on how one looks at it). It is also about bragging rights. And these bragging rights are not only for the fans but the players too. With the Derby following an international break, several players on both teams have been with each other in the week leading up to the big match. Amongst those players are the Spaniards on both United and City. For United, David De Gea, Juan Mata, and Ander Herrera (not with Spanish national team) are a part of the inner-derby rivalry. Mata spoke about how he and De Gea have dealt with their compatriots during the build-up to the Manchester derby. 

“All of us are fully aware that this is a very special game, yet we have to understand that these are three points and don’t get too crazy.

“David De Gea and me have been joking with Nolito and Silva in the last few days, although the truth is we are now focused on the games with the national team.

“After that, we will have plenty of time to think about this exciting derby.”

Understanding the importance of the match to the fans is important, and Mata gets that, but he does make clear that the game is worth the same amount as any other match during the Premier League season. Derby day is always an exciting one for fans but there always seems to be some downside with a red card or an injury because of the intensity of the game. Every match counts in the Premier League so it is vital that United do not leave the match with a loss in personnel. The focus has to be towards the match itself and not the fact that it is against United’s neighbors.

The so-called Noisy Neighbors will be without Sergio Aguero who will serve the first of his three-match ban, but United could be without Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan who both were injured during international duty. These absences could help both sides. United’s defence has been incredible thus far with Eric Bailly fitting right in alongside Daley Blind. Aguero has been a consistent scorer for City and without him, United can relax knowing that he is not there to menace within the Red Devil backline.

One of the best parts of these rivalry matches is the inner rivalries similar to what Mata and De Gea have with Nolito and David Silva. It is always a pleasure to see the players have a laugh with one another or put on a show to get by their compatriot, which could be seen on the weekend with these talented midfielders in red and baby blue. It brings the best out of some of the best players in the world. The fact that it is a big match and means the world for the fans helps get the players fired up but when the players go head-to-head with a friend, some of the most dazzling performances occur.

This Manchester derby has potential to be one of the most thrilling Derbies off all time with the on-field talent and managerial superstardom that both teams present. United will look to show that world-record signing Paul Pogba is worth the hefty price tag in his first “big” match of his second spell with the Old Trafford club. Regardless of the result, this Derby is set to be one of the most thrilling Manchester derbies to ever be played.

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