United’s Manchester derby debutants
Manchester United’s trip to Manchester City this Sunday will provide, for some of our players, a first taste of the Manchester derby.
The fiery tackles and hostile atmosphere have to be experienced to be believed, but the six Reds in question - Antony, Casemiro, Christian Eriksen, Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane – are no strangers to this sort of fixture.
As United prepare for yet another – the 188th to be exact – competitive clash with City, we took a look at each of our potential Manchester derby debutants, and their previous tastes of similar occasions for their former clubs…
ANTONY - Sao Paulo v Corinthians
The Classico Majestoso between Antony’s former club, Sao Paulo, and fellow Brazilian giants, Corinthians, is famed for its controversial moments. With both teams hailing from Sao Paulo and achieving domestic success, the sides compete for more than just bragging rights.
Despite Antony’s only appearance against Corinthians ending in defeat for our Brazilian winger, the taste of such a hostile environment will no doubt be valuable for him ahead of Sunday’s trip to the Etihad Stadium.
CASEMIRO – Brazil v Argentina
Casemiro made his international debut against Argentina, Brazil’s bitter rivals, in 2011. In that match, the result ended 0-0 but it was certainly a baptism of fire for our midfield enforcer, who has now played against Argentina five times.
The game is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated international clashes on the planet, and perhaps Casemiro’s favourite meeting with his international rivals was in the 2019 Copa America, when Brazil ran out 2-0 winners in the semi-final between the sides, going on to lift the trophy.
ERIKSEN – Tottenham v Arsenal
Eriksen is no stranger to derbies, having featured in them for Spurs, Internazionale and during his time with Ajax too. The most prominent of these is the north London derby, with Eriksen meeting the Gunners in the capital on 15 occasions in all competitions, winning four times and drawing six. In fact, in the last north London derby Eriksen played in, a 2-2 draw in 2019, he scored.
The midfielder’s experience in this type of fixture means the hostile atmosphere that will greet him at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday should be like water off a duck’s back.
MALACIA – Feyenoord v Ajax
Despite being 23 years of age, Malacia has been involved in plenty of feisty fixtures already in his career, meeting Ajax on five occasions during his time at Feyenoord. De Klassieker goes beyond just a football rivalry, the competition between the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam is fierce.
This tension fills the stadiums and Malacia was, unfortunately, dismissed in the May 2021 meeting between the two sides for two bookable offences. Although the Dutchman is yet to taste victory in a derby, Tyrell will no doubt be hoping to change that against City on Sunday. He was part of the Netherlands side that defeated neighbours Belgium in midweek though!
MARTINEZ – Ajax v Feyenoord
On the other side of De Klassieker, fellow summer arrival Martinez won each of his four meetings with Feyenoord for Ajax. The most prominent of these wins was Ajax’s 3-0 away win in Rotterdam in 2021, which saw Martinez and Malacia line up opposite each other, and Malacia issued that second-half red card.
Martinez and Malacia met on three occasions in this particular derby, and will hope to help one another achieve derby-day success, this time around, at the Etihad Stadium.
VARANE – Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid
Despite signing for United in August 2021, Varane is yet to feature for the Reds against City, due to injuries. However, having played for Real Madrid for a decade, the Frenchman certainly is no stranger to combative fixtures, particularly against Atletico Madrid.
Varane has played more games against Atletico than any other side in his career (27), winning 10, drawing nine and losing eight. But undoubtedly the most famous was the final of the 2014 Champions League, in which the centre-back played 120 minutes in Real’s eventual 4-1 win after extra-time.
In addition, Varane has featured in 20 El Classicos against Barcelona, so the prospect of adding the Manchester derby to his record this Sunday is something the World Cup winner will be relishing.