A sight all Manchester United fans could not wait to see Tuesday night was the debut of their new record breaking signing Juan Mata. After limited game time and increasing frustration at Chelsea, the 37-million-pound man was eager to play and opted for a fresh start. If anyone was going to pull United out from their current bad patch they would have to be world class, and this is exactly what the World Cup winning Spaniard is, no doubt about it. Claiming the number 8 shirt, left void by Anderson, Mata was always going to start against Cardiff.
Class is Permanent
Mata is by far one of the most creative players in the world, let alone the league, and although he hasn’t played much this season, it looks as if this hasn’t affected him in any way, creating a total of 4 chances on his debut for the Red Devils. Out of these, half were created from set plays and the other half from open play, one of which was an assist. He also attempted one dribble and took 2 shots, with one on target and the other blocked.
If he wants to ensure that he is on the plane to Brazil with the Spanish squad, he needs to impress within the second half of the season. Spain are one of the best passing teams in the world, dominating possession regardless of who they play, and this is exactly what Mata is all about, completing 45 out of 51 passes (88%).
This was the joint most attempted passes on his team alongside Johnny Evans. Out of these passes, 9 (20%) were made forward, 8 (18%) were made back, 14 (31%) to the right and 14 (31%) to the left. He completed 1 out of 4 crosses, all from open play, and passed the ball into the penalty area 6 times.
Mata was influential in Manchester United’s attacking performance, with 28 passes made inside the attacking half, 67% of all his passes made. Out of those made in the attacking half, 18 of them were in the final third which was the most on the pitch.
Another stat in which Mata scored the highest tally on the pitch was the amount of times he passed the ball into the final third, a whopping 13 times. He completed all 18 of his attempted passes in his own half and also completed 3 out of 5 (60%) long balls.
He had 65 touches on the ball, losing the ball 13 times. He made a total of 5 ball recoveries, winning the ball back once in the defensive third, once in the attacking third and three times in the midfield third. He made one tackle and won 3 of his 9 ground duels.
Old Trafford Up Rise
It’s taken a while but United are looking like a very strong team once again. With the returning duo of Van Persie and Rooney, the purchase of Juan Mata couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s obvious that Mata has moved to the Reds because of his World Cup aspirations but his move could be and will be more significant than that. A lot of people will agree, this Manchester United side have more than what it takes to qualify for the Champions League.