Report: Resurgent Barcelona end Manchester United’s winning spree in the USA


Manchester United were beaten in Landover, Maryland but a resurgent Barcelona side who scored a solo goal through Neymar, his third of the Catalan clubs pre-season tour this summer. United started a strong lineup and played well throughout, but just could not create anything. Defensively, United did well at times, but creatively, things need to change. This side, against one of the best in the world, looked short of player to light the pitch up. Romelu Lukaku played well, Paul Pogba seemed determined and Marcus Rashford tried to get something going, with United falling short of the mark. It’s only pre-season, fitness is the main thing, not winning.

Jose Mourinho started a strong side against Barcelona with David De Gea in goal, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Daley Blind in defence. Michael Carrick and Paul Pogba in midfield, Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard all playing behind Romelu Lukaku. United kicked the game off with Barcelona gaining possession of the ball and going on the attack before United won back possession and made the clearance. United then went on the attack through Rashford, crossing into Lukaku, who failed to threaten the Dutch goalkeeper. Neymar then attacked for Barcelona, forcing a save out of De Gea.

In side the sixth minute Lionel Messi, put forward by Neymar could have scored but De Gea made the save, not grasping the ball, but getting to it. A minute or so later Barcelona had another chance with De Gea saving again giving the Catalan team a corner. De Gea made a save from the corner too, thwarting the Catalans so far at the start of the match. In the eleventh minute of the match after some good play by Lukaku, Blind got forward hoping to set the Belgian striker up for a goal but the ball was intercepted. United were giving as much as they had received so far in this match, which is a good sign.

Messi had a shot on goal with some quick play in the twelfth minute but the Argentinian’s shot was wide of the target, luckily for United. Last season Messi scored 54 goals in 52 matches, which is some good for. A minute later Lukaku had a long-range shot on goal, which was straight down the throat of Jasper Cillessen, a good attempt from United’s new striker. Paul Pogba had a shot on goal from long-range also with Cillessen stretching to make the save. United are not afraid of this Barcelona side, which is a very good sign. Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a shot also, which was wide of the target.

United won a corner in the 17th minute of the match after Lingard took a shot which was deflected behind. United threatened from the corner with Lingard advancing to the left of the goal with Cillessen making the safe to thwart the Red Devils. Barcelona then went on the attack with United attempting to close them down, stopping the attack by giving away a throw-in. United got forward on the attack, running 60 yards with the ball but Sergio Busquets made the challenge, giving away a corner. Rashford took the corner, but it was cleared into United’s half, with them then pushing forward but Smalling was flagged for offside.

Messi won a free-kick for Barcelona in the 22nd minute of the match after it appeared that he was bundled over, seemingly making the best of the challenge to put his team in contention to threaten again. Messi took the free-kick and hit it straight into United’s wall. Lingard on the advance was then hacked down by Ivan Rakitic unnecessarily with United winning a free-kick. Barcelona then regained possession and the end-to-end play resumed after Luis Suarez took a dive. Lukaku broke forward again, not getting anything for his team. Pogba had another shot on goal, just seeing his effort go wide again.

Just before the half hour stage of the match, Barcelona were having more attacking play threatening United with De Gea making a few saves and United getting the better of the attacks. From the corner, Barcelona were maintaining their shot passes to create space in United’s attacking third keeping United on their toes. Barcelona seemed rusty as they were just not threatening enough, which will suit United well as a win inside 90 minutes will see the club clinch the International Champions Cup, which they won in 2014 in Louis van Gaal’s first pre-season with the club. Barcelona took the lead in the 31st minute through Neymar, Valencia lost his balance in the box.

Barcelona seemed to toy with United after their opening goal, which was not the first time United had fallen behind during pre-season, Real Salt Lake took the lead in the second match on this tour. Barcelona are a much better side though. United have been giving as much as they got, at times, which as I said was a good sign. Barcelona won another free-kick in the 40th minute of the patch after Messi was fouled by Pogba. The Argentinian took the free-kick, which sailed over the crossbar. United got a credible attack going, sitting in the box, but the attack was closed down. Blind pulled Messi back, could have been booked, but wasn’t.

Suarez got forward in the 42nd minute, threatening to score Barcelona’s second goal, but De Gea got down to thwart the Uruguayan from finding a second goal for his club just before the end of the first half. United broke forward with two minutes of the half to play with Lukaku waiting in the box, making space and the ball was crossed in, missing the Belgian and Lingard trying to chase the ball which went out of play. Another attack for United, another one which saw them fail to really threaten Barcelona. Pogba was determined to get something from this game. United had another chance with Blind crossing, just a bit too soon for Lukaku. 1-0 Barca.

At the start of the second half Barcelona made ten changes with United making a five with Sergio Romero replacing De Gea, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly replacing Smalling and Lindelof in the centre of defence, Matteo Darmian replacing Blind at left-back and Marouane Fellaini replacing Carrick. United had a lot to do in order to get back into the game as despite all the changes and the fact the game had fizzled out a little, the understudies (with some experience) for Barcelona in this match were just as threatening, just not as polished. Valencia tried to start something for United, but the attacking play was closed down quickly by Barca.

Around the hour mark things were not going too well for United with Lingard holding his groin unable to continue, which was a shame after a bright pre-season. Anthony Martial replaced Lingard and Mourinho made another change with Andreas Pereira replacing Mkhitaryan. United were struggling to put an attack together with Barcelona seeming much fresher and ready to thwart chances created by their opposition. United need two goals to win the International Champions Cup, which seems a long way from possibility right now. Martial had a chance in the 65th minute, seeing his effort off target.

Barcelona had a chance at the other end with Romeo making the save to thwart the Catalan side. Bailly seemed to be caught flat footed at a moment whereby he could have possible done more to regain possession of challenge the attacking player. In the 70th minute Pereira had a chance to score, but it cleared the crossbar, unfortunately for United, who really need to get back into the match. United had an opportunity to score again, creating space in Barca’s defence but the shot was played straight into the goalkeeper, who was having a good game. United had another shot minutes later, this time from Pogba, still not threatening enough to get into the match.

Barcelona won a corner, but Romero caught the ball inside his area sending United on the attack. United had started to do more to get something going, but Barca were seemingly looking to keep control of the match, keeping a clean sheet, which seemed possible at this moment in time. There was 15 minutes remaining for United to get back into the match. Andres Iniesta could have caused more damage, his attempt did not cause problems for United. Martial had some good play on the left flank, taking his defender on, but his tough was heavy and the ball went out of play. The attendance inside the FedEx Field was 80,162, much better the Sunday’s match.

Marouane Fellaini was booked in the 83rd minute fo the match for a foul, perhaps being lucky to still be on the pitch after elbowing his opposition, only coming on at the start of the second half. Axel Tuanzebe replaced Valencia in the 84th minute of the match with the 19-year-old getting a few mont minutes of pre-season action, albeit playing at right-back. In the 90th minute Rashford and Lucas Digne went down on the right flank with the United striker seemingly in pain, but continuing. Barcelona got the free-kick, not doing anything of note but United still needed a goal to level the score. Rashford was flagged offside on the attack Four minutes added on.

In the first minute of added time, Barcelona seemed to handle the ball in the area, close to the referee but nothing was given. On the replay, it was accidental. United needed to go for broke, looking for that goal which would take the match to penalties, like the one against Real Madrid on Sunday. It was a good work out for the players, which is what pre-season is about, not winning pointless silverware, but it would have been nice. Bailly won a free-kick for United with just over a minute to play, it being hacked away back into United’s half. Tuanzebe started something with Martial not shooting and being dispossessed. Rashford had a chance too, off target.

United lost the match 1-0 which will end their pre-season tour of the United States of America. They still have two pre-season matches against Valerenga in Oslo and Sampdoria in Dublin, also the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid in Macedonia, so plenty of time to get the fitness levels to where they need to be, perhaps even a new face or two before the three matches have been played.

Manchester United: De Gea (Romero 46′); Valencia (Tuanzebe 84′), Smalling (Bailly 46′), Lindelof (Jones 46′), Blind (Darmian 46′); Carrick (Fellaini 46′), Pogba; Lingard (Martial 63′), Mkhitaryan (A. Pereira 63′), Rashford; Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: J. Pereira; Fosu-Mensah, Mitchell; McTominay

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