Which Red best understands Juan Mata?
Juan Mata is no stranger to forming connections on the football pitch.
The Spaniard has shared a dressing room with some of the sport’s most revered figures during a sparkling career, but Juan has revealed that he particularly relishes playing alongside Portuguese talisman Bruno Fernandes – a link-up which reaped impressive benefits during last Saturday’s 4-1 win over Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
In that game, Mata assisted Harry Maguire’s equalising goal, while Fernandes scored the key second - which Mata was also involved in - and laid on Marcus Rashford’s late effort, and the pair proved a troublesome prospect for the Magpies’ midfield throughout as the Reds created an impressive 24 chances on Tyneside.
“I enjoy playing with [Bruno] and with players like him. I think we understand football in the same way,” Juan told United Daily.
Highlights: Newcastle 1 United 4Video
“We both like to play in spaces and play and move, to create opportunities for our strikers. We understand each other really well on the pitch.
“With one look between us, we know where we want the ball, we know where we’re going to move.
“Of course, it doesn’t always work but we try to play together because we understand each other really well.”
This weekend, United take on Mata’s former team Chelsea in the Premier League, as we look to build on our promising form since the international break.
With the capital club boasting half-a-dozen new signings in their ranks, it should prove to be a noteworthy occasion in more ways than one for the 32-year-old, who could count Blues’ manager Frank Lampard as a team-mate while at Stamford Bridge.
“It’s always special for me to play against them. I’ve still got many friends in there,” Mata added.
“I know Frank, we were team-mates. I know how good he is as a manager and of course how good he was as a player.
“It will be tough because they’ve got great new players in the squad. They have a big squad, so a lot of players can play and do well.
“We need to make sure we are ready for that and that we are ready to play at our best level, like the last two games. If we play in that way, I’m sure we will be close to winning.”
Another three points for the Reds would provide a real boost ahead of a difficult-looking home tie against RB Leipzig in midweek, before Arsenal visit Old Trafford next Sunday.
Juan is keen to keep up the momentum of mid-October and help United progress up the table, after a difficult opening month in 2020/21.
“We knew we had crucial month in front of us with very difficult games.
“We managed to play well in the first two, so we want to keep the momentum for the next ones we have.
“[We have] Chelsea, Leipzig, Arsenal coming so we need to make sure we are at our best level and get points.”