Matic will not show Benfica any love
Matic will not show Benfica any love
The rangy midfielder was used very much as bait by Chelsea who wanted to lure David Luiz from Benfica in 2011. The Blues paid Benfica €25 million and threw in Matic for good measure.
The Serbian has since been transformed into one of the world’s best defensive midfielders with Chelsea realizing the error of their ways and resigning Matic for £21 million three years later.
This summer Manchester United were so keen to have him that they paid a whopping £40 million for his services. The fee represented good business for a 29-year-old but it was a surprise Chelsea let go a player, especially to a rival, who had bestrode their midfield during their Premier League title triumph.
And ready to face another of his old teams in tonight’s Champions League clash in Portugal Matic is ready to show his former fans just how far he has come.
“It’s a special club, a club that I love,” said Matic. “At Benfica, I learnt a lot about football and about the pressure of playing for a big club, because they are one of the best clubs in Europe,” he said.
“I will support them for the rest of my life and they will have a special place in my heart but, in the Champions League, I hope we can take points from them.”
The Serbian has hit the ground running in United’s new beefed up midfield under Jose Mourinho, another former Benfica man — United boss was assistant coach at the club back in 2000. Matic’s now blossoming career was very much at the crossroads when he arrived at the Portuguese giants six years ago. Indeed, Benfica were not even sure what his best position was when he arrived.
“When I first came to Benfica, the manager, Jorge Jesus, told me on my first day I would be playing as a No.6 or as a defensive midfielder,” Matic told MUFC.com. “At the beginning, it was strange for me because I didn’t know I could play that position but, slowly, I trained with the team and the manager explained to me how to do it. And after a lot of hard work, now, I’m at Manchester United, so I must have done the job well.”
Matic enjoyed a trophy-laden spell in Portugal. He won the club's Player of the Year crown, a league title and three domestic cups in three years. So unsurprisingly he looks back with real fondness on his time with the Portuguese giants.
United are big favorites for the Champions League clash at the Estadio de Luz. The hosts have only won two of their past seven games and have lost their opening two Champions League ties, 2-1 home defeat to CSKA Moscow, before a 5-0 route away at Basel.
“I was surprised because Benfica is a team who’s used to winning games,” Matic said. “But they are a big club and they have good players, I think everyone there is hard to play against. There are six or seven players still there that played with me, and they have a few younger guys who want to show their quality, but I cannot mention any standouts because, as a team, they are really good.”
Mickey Arthur calls on Pakistan to prove India defeat was one-off
- Pakistan coach wants improved performance when side next face big rivals India on Sunday in the UAE.
- Asia Cup now down to Super Four stage.
LONDON: Mickey Arthur is confident Pakistan can bounce back from their big defeat against India in Dubai on Wednesday.
Arthur’s side lost by eight wickets to their arch-rivals in the final clash of the group stage at the Asia Cup, taking place in the UAE.
It came less than 24 hours after India struggled to beat Hong Kong, but Rohit Sharma’s side hit the disappointment of that performance for six to easily beat Pakistan.
Despite the defeat Arthur is sure his side can turn things around in the Super Four stage and go all the way and win the tournament.
“Whenever we go head-to-head with India, I am comfortable that we’ve got a dressing room of players who can stand up to it,” the Pakistan coach said.
“I am comfortable we’ve got a dressing room of players who, on any given day, can win. So I still think it’s a 50-50. Lucky this game was inconsequential in the tournament.”
Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (three for 15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (three for 23) sent Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, collapsing to just 162 all out in 43.1 overs at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Skipper Sharma then struck three sixes and six boundaries in his 39-ball 52 while fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan hit a six and six fours in his 54-ball 46 as India romped home in just 29 overs.
Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik both finished on 31 not out as India exacted some revenge for their humbling 180-run defeat against their arch-rivals in the final of the Champions Trophy in London last year — the most recent match between the teams until Wednesday.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur was not a happy man after watching his Pakistan side soundly beaten by India in Dubai.
Both Pakistan and India had already qualified for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and will meet again in Dubai on Sunday. When they do Arthur will doubtless be looking for a response and for his side to stick to the set plans.
“On a wicket like that you need to strike really if you’re going to defend it. We didn’t strike early enough,” Arthur said.
“We went away from our plans too quickly. We said that our batters batted outside our roles and that wasn’t acceptable. With our bowling, we went outside our plans far too quickly. We wanted to bowl hard lengths, hit the top of off stump.
“It was tough to score then. We did that in the first six, and then (Usman Khan) Shinwari decided to come around the wicket and bowl a bouncer with fine leg up. And from there it just tumbled.
“We’re going to sit down and talk about that. It’s not good enough. We went outside our plans.
“That’s not acceptable. I think there was a bit of panic when they didn’t strike early.”
Also of concern to the Pakistan coach is the form of Mohammad Amir. The side’s main bowler has looked out of form recently and has struggled for wickets since last year’s Champions Trophy win.
“I’d be lying if I sat here and said there wasn’t (any concern about Amir),” Arthur said.
“I had a really good, long hard chat with him last night and I thought he came out and bowled really well. He hit the crease really hard. He ran in well. He’s been decelerating to the crease, but he didn’t do that today.
“He seemed more fluent, there was a little bit more pace there. And I was comfortable (with what he did), he bowled well. There is pressure on him, of course there is.”
There was much hype surrounding the clash, as there always is with any India vs. Pakistan match, but once Pakistan’s unpredictable batting crumbled, Wednesday’s showdown turned into a damp squib for a near-capacity crowd in the UAE. They will all hope that Sunday’s rerun will dish up more drama and entertainment.