What did we learn from United's defeat in Oslo?

Saturday 30 July 2022 14:55

Sunday's friendly against Rayo Vallecano will be shown live on the United App, MUTV and ManUtd.com.

Manchester United contested the penultimate game of Erik ten Hag's first pre-season on Saturday, as the Reds fell to a 1-0 defeat against Atletico Madrid in Oslo.

The Dutchman's team return to Manchester for the final match of the summer at Old Trafford tomorrow (31 July), where we'll host Rayo Vallecano.

It was a frustrating afternoon's work, with loads of good play left unrewarded, as Joao Felix's late winner condemned us to a first defeat under Ten Hag. But there were plenty of positives aspects to United's play and some good individual performances – not to mention an enterprising debut for Christian Eriksen. Let's run through some of the major talking points...

Atletico Madrid 1 United 0


Erik ten Hag's side were beaten for the first time during pre-season in Oslo, as a late strike wins the game for Atleti.

Pre-season is all about building both fitness and momentum ahead of the Premier League season and, while we didn't get that fourth win of summer 2022, United did get a proper challenge, against a Champions League side who are grizzled opponents. Atletico are famously difficult to break down, but the hot conditions in Oslo made this a really worthwhile afternoon's work for Erik ten Hag's Reds. Sharpness is undoubtedly building ahead of that big opening game against Brighton.
Sometimes, these pre-season showpieces can be a little sedate, but that was most definitely not the case in Norway. The Madrilenos are renowned for their competitive spirit and, even though manager Diego Simeone was wearing a relaxed tracksuit, they soon showed that they've relinquished none of their bite, with a series of aggressive challenges. Mind you, Ten Hag's lads matched them blow for blow. The first 20 minutes alone saw Lindelof clattered, Malacia snapping at heels all over the shop, Fred manhandled by Lemar, and Fernandes penalised for a high boot. Then a major fracas erupted after Scott McTominay collided with Jan Oblak at a corner. It didn't make for a pretty spectactle, but it does help to prepare United for the kind of challenges they are going to face during the season ahead.
Rashford's early chance v Atletico Video

Rashford's early chance v Atletico

Watch how Marcus Rashford nearly fired the Reds into an early lead in Oslo, live in your United App...

Christian Eriksen enjoyed a Scandinavian debut, replacing Anthony Martial for his first public appearance in United colours in the 69th minute. The Dane received huge cheers from the Norwegian crowd, and nearly set up a goal for Marcus Rashford with one of his first few meaningful touches. When his signing was announced, many fans wondered whether the former Tottenham and Brentford man would be a back-up for Bruno Fenandes or someone who might play alongside the Portuguese playmaker. Well, here in Oslo, we saw Bruno move a little to the left when Eriksen came on. A sign of how Ten Hag sees the pair dovetailing when the season begins? We'll have to wait and see.
Eriksen enters to a huge ovation Video

Eriksen enters to a huge ovation

Watch the moment Christian Eriksen made his entrance to a huge ovation from our supporters...

Every Red was warmly applauded in Oslo but, at certain moments, there seemed extra support for Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford. The skipper should have scored from Christian Eriksen's corner in the final 15 minutes, but he played well throughout the 90, putting in strong challenges and playing some lovely passes. He made some crucial interventions in defence too, particularly after Griezmann and Joao Felix had come on to inject some creativity into the Atletico attack. He was powerless to deny Atletico's winner, however, when Felix stepped inside Diogo Dalot and fired home.

Why was Sancho absent?


Erik ten Hag explains why the in-form winger was not involved against Atletico Madrid.


Yes, the result was not what Ten Hag would have dreamed of last night. But there were some encouraging aspects to United's overall performance. We dominated possession, created more chances and had more shots on goal (and on target) than the Spaniards and, another day, might have won the game comfortably. After we trounced Liverpool 4-0, plenty of commentators were keen to stress the irrelevance of pre-season results. So let's hope this one in Oslo is just a mere hiccup in what's been a successful warm-up for the competitive season.