Eriksen shows his class
Manchester United fans were treated to an impressive Christian Eriksen cameo during the 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
The Danish midfielder highlighted his world-class quality after being brought on for Anthony Martial with just over 20 minutes to go by new boss Erik ten Hag. This was Eriksen’s first public appearance for the Reds after he featured in a behind-closed-doors match in the week.
A sea of United supporters had already shown their excitement for Eriksen at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo. The 30-year-old midfielder received a rapturous outpouring of love during his warm-up along the touchline, with fans chanting his name as he prepared to enter the fray.
Eriksen’s class shone immediately, as the playmaker strolled into possession and began to dictate the pace of United’s build-up in midfield. The midfielder effortlessly stroked the ball across the pitch and produced the type of precise passes that have made him such a revered talent throughout his illustrious career.
Ten Hag’s detailed instructions had the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Elanga creating space with incisive runs forward, and Eriksen took advantage of this just minutes after coming on by stepping into a great crossing position on the edge of the box. He floated a deadly ball beyond the Atletico defence, but unfortunately for United, the pass narrowly evaded both Rashford and Elanga as they powered into the area.
Moments later, Eriksen burst forward to close Atletico down and win a corner. The renowned set-piece taker stepped up and delivered a ball which almost led to a superb goal.
United captain Harry Maguire found himself free in the box but the defender couldn’t divert the header on target, in what proved to be the Reds’ best chance against a typically stubborn Atletico backline.
Even so, the Eriksen-Maguire connection from set-pieces is something to keep an eye on next term.
While Eriksen’s excellence in possession is well-documented, it’s his intelligence off the ball that gives him the freedom to work so effortlessly. The Dane is always looking to progress play and this was summed up by a brilliant touch and turn on the half-way line that allowed him to fizz the ball towards Rashford, who was waiting on the last man.
Diego Simeone’s compressed backline just managed to cut it out, ultimately going on to achieve a narrow victory over the Reds.
However, following Eriksen’s impressive early minutes in a United shirt, Old Trafford supporters will be hoping to see him star tomorrow against Rayo Vallecano, and again at the Theatre of Dreams for his competitive debut against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday 7 August.