Why Anthony Martial could be key for Manchester United against Juventus
Manchester United take on Italian champions Juventus at Old Trafford on Tuesday night in a UEFA Champions League Group H match, hoping to snap a run of just one win in six matches in all competitions. The match will also mark the return of the prodigal son, Cristiano Ronaldo, who enjoyed six trophy-laden seasons at Old Trafford.
United will have the home support in their favour but Juventus will be the undoubted favourites after enjoying a nine-game unbeaten run in the Serie A. In contrast, Jose Mourinho’s Red Army has won just once since September 19 but truth be told, Manchester United have shown a lot of character and desire to compete in the last two games.
The Red Devils staged a remarkable comeback from 2-0 down to beat Newcastle United 3-2 prior to the international break.
However, Mourinho’s return to the Stamford Bridge appeared to be a grim one as Chelsea dominated United in the first half and had a goal to show for it, but the visitors came roaring back after the break, United scored twice through Anthony Martial, which looked to give Mourinho a happy return to west London, only for Ross Barkley to equalise in the stoppage time.
United were not extraordinary against Chelsea but they were clinical with the chances that came in the second-half.
Anthony Martial proved to be United’s juggernaut at Stamford Bridge with a top individual show that rattled Chelsea so much so that Maurizio Sarri’s side stopped playing their brand of football.
Martial’s brace could have given United all three points at the Bridge after almost half a dozen years but in the end, a point for both sides looked a fair result although Mourinho termed it as an “awful result” for his side.
Martial has been United’s star man for the last two games, with the Frenchman scoring three goals. The brace at Stamford Bridge could lead to an evolution, an unseen trajectory for the 22-year-old forward.
Martial and Mourinho haven’t shared the best of relationships ever since the Portuguese manager came in for Louis van Gaal in 2016.
Mourinho has singled out the France international in public a number of times for his poor performances and lack of defensive discipline, and their rocky relationship took another hit when Martial flew home from pre-season tour to be at the birth of his child and was fined by the United manager.
But, Martial insisted there has never been a problem between the pair. After rising to the occasion in the last couple of games, the Frenchman certainly is ready for Juventus’ litmus test.
Of course, Juventus are a different kettle of fish altogether than Newcastle and Chelsea but Martial has offered hope to United. He has shown ruthlessness in his finishing and with Alexis Sanchez continuing to be a shadow of his former self, the 22-year-old has stepped up and regained Mourinho’s trust.
The £65,000-a-week star’s late run of form has all the makings of a reversal of fortunes. And the skillful Frenchman may just hold the key for United when they host Juventus in a highly-awaited clash on Tuesday.