EPL

Van de Beek to start for Man Utd as Fernandes is dropped for Carrick's first game

By Sports Desk November 23, 2021

Donny van de Beek was handed only his second start for Manchester United this season in Tuesday's clash with Villarreal as Michael Carrick took charge for the first time.

United were in action for the first time since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's dismissal on Sunday, and Carrick – named caretaker manager ahead of an expected interim appointment – made his presence known.

Van de Beek came straight into the starting XI after a positive cameo off the bench in Solskjaer's final game, the 4-1 defeat at Watford.

The Dutchman scored United's only goal in that game, which was just his third top-flight appearance of the season.

Van de Beek has been bizarrely marginalised since joining from Ajax last year for approximately £45million, as he made just four Premier League starts in 2020-21.

As such, he has lost his place in the Netherlands team and media speculation has strongly suggested he was planning to engineer a move away in the upcoming January transfer window.

But Carrick elected to give him a rare opportunity from the start, with Bruno Fernandes the one to drop out of the team.

Jadon Sancho also showed flashes of quality against Watford and retained his place in the starting XI, though Marcus Rashford – withdrawn at half-time at Vicarage Road – was dropped in favour of Anthony Martial, who replaced him at the weekend.

Luke Shaw missed out at left-back due to a head injury, meaning Alex Telles filled in.

Heading into the game, United sat top of Group F but level on seven points with Villarreal.

Related items

  • Ballon d'Or: Who won what at the 2021 awards Ballon d'Or: Who won what at the 2021 awards

    Paris Saint-Germain superstar Lionel Messi clinched a seventh Ballon d'Or, extending his record as the player to have won the individual accolade on the most occasions.

    The 34-year-old enjoyed a fruitful year at club level, scoring 32 times in 40 appearances across all competitions for PSG and Barcelona, but it was his exploits with Argentina that were most impressive, claiming the first major international trophy of his career by winning the Copa America. 

    Bayern Munich's prolific striker Robert Lewandowski came second to Messi, but became the first winner of the Striker of the Year award after outscoring every player in Europe's top five leagues, netting 53 times in 42 appearances across all competitions so far in 2021, averaging a goal every 67 minutes.

    Messi's PSG team-mate Gianluigi Donnarumma claimed the Yashin Trophy, awarded to the best goalkeeper, and was named 10th in the Ballon d'Or voting.

    Donnarumma starred for Italy as they won Euro 2020, making a number of crucial saves in the shoot-out victory over England in the final.

    Barcelona and Spain youngster Pedri won the Kopa Trophy after featuring heavily for club and country despite only turning 19 on November 25, also being shortlisted for the Ballon d'Or and finishing 24th.

    Another Barca midfielder, Alexia Putellas, picked up the women's top prize, having helped the Catalan giants' women's team to Champions League and domestic glory in 2020-21.

    Finally, Chelsea had 11 players nominated across all categories, making them the inaugural Club of the Year winners.

    Award winners in full:

    Men's Ballon d'Or – Lionel Messi (PSG and Argentina)
    Kopa Trophy – Pedri (Barcelona and Spain)
    Yashin Trophy – Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG and Italy)
    Club of the Year – Chelsea (England)
    Striker of the Year – Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich and Poland)
    Women's Ballon d'Or – Alexia Putellas (Barcelona and Spain)

  • Ballon d'Or: Ronaldo finishes sixth as Messi wins historic seventh award Ballon d'Or: Ronaldo finishes sixth as Messi wins historic seventh award

    Cristiano Ronaldo lost ground in his quest to claim more Ballon d'Or awards than his rival Lionel Messi, finishing sixth while the Argentine claimed a historic seventh award.

    It is the first time the Portugal forward, who was not in attendance at the ceremony in Paris on Monday, has not been named in the top three since 2010, when Messi – who won his second prize that year – was joined by then Barcelona team-mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

    Ronaldo managed 30 goals at club level in 2021 for Juventus and Manchester United, while also becoming the all-time top scorer in men's international football.

    The 36-year-old finishes above Paris Saint-Germain pair Gianluigi Donnarumma and Kylian Mbappe as well as Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and Liverpool attacker Mohamed Salah.

    Salah and Mbappe both outscored Ronaldo at club level this calendar year, scoring 32 and 37 goals across all competitions, but finished seventh and ninth respectively.

    Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante and Real Madrid centre-forward Karim Benzema claimed the fifth and fourth spots, with Ronaldo's former team-mate enjoying a prolific year, managing 34 goals and 12 assists for Los Blancos in all competitions.

    Jorginho, who won the Euros with Italy and claimed the Champions League with Chelsea, makes it into the top three behind Messi and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who finished second but won the inaugural Striker of the Year award.

    Lewandowski had been considered the favourite before then, partly due to breaking Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season, while he has netted 53 times in 2021.

    The Poland striker looked likely to have won the award in 2020 before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Ballon d'Or top 10:

    1. Lionel Messi (PSG and Argentina)
    2. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich and Poland)
    3. Jorginho (Chelsea and Italy)
    4. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid and France)
    5. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea and France)
    6. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United and Portugal)
    7. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt)
    8. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City and Belgium)
    9. Kylian Mbappe (PSG and France)
    10. Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG and Italy)

  • Ballon d'Or: How Messi pipped Lewandowski to 2021 award Ballon d'Or: How Messi pipped Lewandowski to 2021 award

    Lionel Messi has edged out Robert Lewandowski to the 2021 Ballon d'Or award, a seventh of his magnificent career.

    World football's most prestigious individual accolade was back up for grabs this year, with the ceremony taking place in Paris on Monday, where Messi was announced as the winner with Lewandowski second.

    The Bayern Munich striker would almost certainly have won his maiden Ballon d'Or in 2020, only for France Football to decide not to hand out the award due to the coronavirus pandemic, and was pipped by Paris Saint-Germain star Messi this year in the running for the 2021 iteration.

    Lewandowski did get the consolation prize of the inaugural Striker of the Year award.

    Was it the right choice, though? Using Opta data, Stats Perform assesses why the Argentinian may have been awarded this year's prize.

    Last season: Barca swansong v Muller's record

    Few anticipated that the first half of 2021 would also be the final half-season of Messi's time at Barcelona.

    His sensational free transfer to PSG at the end of the campaign was forced by financial issues at the Catalan club, and he bid a tearful goodbye to the Camp Nou, but not before signing off with a few more goals.

    Messi's last LaLiga campaign before heading off to France saw him bag 30 goals in 35 games, with a further five in six Champions League games.

    However, team awards were scarce, with just a Copa del Rey to show for his efforts. Barca finished a meek third in LaLiga, and were eliminated – somewhat ironically – by PSG in the last 16 of the Champions League.

    Something that may have counted against Lewandowski was his own lack of silverware compared to the previous year, where he and Bayern hoovered up a remarkable treble, including the Champions League. They did though still retain the Bundesliga title with relative ease, as well as clinching the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

    They were eliminated from the Champions League at the quarter-final stage, also by a pre-Messi PSG, though this can hardly be blamed on the Polish striker, who missed both legs of the tie through injury.

    Lewandowski himself remained in outstanding form, and last season broke Gerd Muller's 49-year record for goals scored in a single Bundesliga campaign, netting 41 for Die Roten in just 29 league games, with a deadly shot conversion percentage across the season of 29.93.

    It may have been Messi's superior creativity that helped sway the judges, creating 77 chances in his 35 league games, 22 of which were big chances, compared to 32 and nine from Lewandowski in his 29 league appearances in Germany.

    The former Barca man did only manage two more assists than Lewandowski (nine to seven) but completed 159 dribbles and 1,068 successful passes ending in the final third, compared to the Pole's 22 and 237. Of course, it should be noted that Messi's role is typically a deeper one than Lewandowski's, so those latter statistics are not too surprising.

    This season: New adventures v same old story

    Messi's start to a new life in a new league has not exactly matched the inevitable expectations that accompanied his arrival in Paris.

    The 34-year-old has just one goal in seven appearances in Ligue 1 with a shot conversion percentage of just 4.17, though he does have three in four Champions League games for Mauricio Pochettino's side.

    Lewandowski has continued to plunder goals against all-comers, with 25 goals in 20 games in all competitions for Bayern, including an incredible nine in five Champions League games, and his shot conversion rate is currently even better than last season at 30.86 per cent.

    In all competitions, the former Borussia Dortmund striker has played almost twice as many games as Messi (20 to 11) so it is tricky to compare them too accurately in terms of output, but Lewandowski has created 26 chances to Messi's 18, with six big chances created to five, while Messi has the edge on assists (three to two), dribbles completed (22 to 20) and successful passes ending in the final third (222 to 146).

    So far you would have to say it is the Pole who is impressing most in the current campaign, having also had a more productive season last time out, so where exactly did Messi win this award?

     

    Internationals: Argentina v Poland

    Despite being an individual award, there is no doubt that team accolades often play a big part in swaying the judges, and an eventful pre-season for Messi at club level was arguably the only thing that could possibly have overshadowed what happened at international level as he finally lifted his first trophy in an Argentina shirt.

    Messi scored four goals and gave five assists as he led the Albiceleste to their first Copa America title since 1993, being involved in nine of the 12 goals scored by Argentina at the tournament.

    Lewandowski, on the other hand, had less success at Euro 2020, with Poland crashing out at the group stage of the re-arranged tournament.

    Their star striker still managed to score three goals in three games for his country, but was unable to force them into the knockout stages.

     

    Very little creates debate in football quite like the Ballon d'Or, and on the face of it this year's trophy could have gone either way, with honourable mentions for the likes of Jorginho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Karim Benzema.

    It is Messi's Ballon d'Or in 2021 though, and it seems that Copa America success is what tipped it in his favour. PSG fans will be hoping that a domestic trophy haul over the next 12 months can see him installed as favourite to secure his eighth award next year, ahead of potentially his last attempt at World Cup success with Argentina.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.