The first two quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup were played on Friday and Manchester United had its players participating in both matches. Paul Pogba was on the winning side of the match between France and Uruguay, while Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini got the better of Brazil in the second clash. Fred did not play in that match.
Paul Pogba against Uruguay
The midfielder played a good game against Uruguay. It was not truly a masterclass of any sorts, nor was it as good and as crucial as it was against Argentina in the round of 16. However, it was quite positive and Didier Deschamps will be happy with how Paul Pogba played against the South American side. He was on the pitch for the full 90 minutes and he played an important role on both sides of the pitch, especially defensively.
What Pogba did well was offer solidity against a team that was always going to have troubles creating chances without their main striker Edinson Cavani. Uruguay are very dependent on the partnership of Cavani and Luis Suarez and that was very obvious in the absence of the former player. Pogba once again offered security in possession, and he changed the tempo with long balls. He created one chance, while adding muscle to his team.
That was especially evident in him winning 14 duels in this match. He was fouled four times – while making as many fouls himself – but he did help in and around his box, making five clearances. He also had two successful tackles and all of that alongside an amazing defensive player N’Golo Kante. He will want to continue playing well when France meet Belgium in the semifinal.
Romelu Lukaku against Brazil
This was a performance plenty of people of will talk about for days. It was an immense first half from Romelu Lukaku who at times looked like he could rip up Brazil’s defence whenever he wanted. And all of that came after a surprising lineup from Roberto Martinez. Lukaku started on the right flank, basically as a winger, in a 4-3-3 formation, where Kevin De Bruyne was the central forward and Eden Hazard played in his favourite place on the left.
Lukaku was winning duels, getting the ball in wide areas where he was often isolated against just one defender as his direct oponent. That obviously resulted in him having more freedom than maybe people would expect. He was free to make runs with the ball, but also make runs without the ball, receiving it in dangerous areas. His assist for De Bruyne’s goal that eventually sealed Brazil’s fate came after an incredible 40-yard run with the ball at his feet, right through the Brazil team.
Marouane Fellaini against Brazil
Marouane Fellaini played a great first half and a not so good second. However, the latter part was mostly the result of Martinez’s lack of changes, as Brazil started piling pressure. That was not the place for Fellaini to stay on the pitch, as Belgium needed a player like Moussa Dembele. Yet first half was really good, where he brought physicality against meek Brazilians. He often fouled opposing players, stopping the flow of the game, which was helpful, but Fellaini should probably stay Belgium’s plan B.