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Juan Mata may be old but he’s still got the magic touch

Juan Mata scored in Man United
Juan Mata scored in Man United's 3-0 win over Brighton in the Carabao Cup.
ANALYST
Modified 01 Oct 2020, 19:12 IST
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The Carabao Cup is gradually becoming Juan Mata’s favourite playground. The Spaniard, reduced to a bit-part player at Manchester United, is displaying his best form in the competition.

At 32, not much can be expected from Mata but for a player who is known for assisting rather than scoring, his goal against Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday was well-taken.

It was Juan Mata's 50th goal for the Old Trafford outfit. Mata may now be a little old, but he’s constantly shown that he’s still got the magic touch. The strengths of his game have always been clear too. What he lacks in speed, he perfectly makes up for with deft skill and technique.

The Spanish midfielder has started just two games this season, both in the Carabao Cup. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is intransigent on his preferred front three and Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial are obviously the Norwegian manager’s preferred choices in attack.

However, Juan Mata has shown that he is not finished and still has a lot more to offer the Red Devils. He’ll be an asset in the course of the season, especially against teams that sit deep. Perhaps it’s time he’s given more game time in the Premier League.

"A great performance by Juan Mata,” Solskjaer said of the Spaniard in an interview with Sky Sports. “He was the one who got on the ball and calmed us down. He was composed. He more or less created the first goal himself. I am never surprised when he plays like this."
"He has been around the block and knows football. He does his work and is at the back to shield the ball from Dan Burn at a corner in the second half. We needed the first 20-25 minutes to get our confidence and get on the ball. We have worked on set pieces. You keep a clean sheet and this is important for a back four," added Solskjaer.

So far, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and to some extent Donny van de Beek are the only creative forces in the Manchester United team. Juan Mata can easily be placed in this bracket and he's shown that he’s still got the skills to help the team win at 32 years of age. 

Published 01 Oct 2020, 19:12 IST
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