Juan Veron and David Beckham.

When Reds go head-to-head

Saturday 19 November 2022 07:00

There are a number of potential Manchester United head-to-heads at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, which kicks off on Sunday when the hosts play Ecuador.

Three teams in Group D have United representation, with Christian Eriksen, Raphael Varane and Hannibal picked in the squads of Denmark, France and Tunisia respectively.

Over in Group H, a Portugal side containing Diogo Dalot, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo will come up against Facundo Pellistri's Uruguay on the second matchday.

That's not even mentioning the potential for knockout clashes, which dominate the previous eight instances of United players meeting on opposing World Cup sides...

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Denmark 1 Scotland 0 (1986)
The first-ever head-to-head between two United team-mates at a World Cup took place at Mexico 86, as Gordon Strachan and Jesper Olsen faced off, with Arthur Albiston watching on from the stands and John Sivebaek on the Denmark bench. Future Reds boss Alex Ferguson was in interim charge of the Scots, who succumbed to a second-half goal from Hellas Verona forward Preben Elkjaer.

Argentina 0 England 1 (2002)
The only historical instance of two United team-mates captaining their respective nations against each other played out in Sapporo, Japan, as Juan Sebastian Veron and David Beckham skippered Argentina and England respectively. For good measure, Beckham was joined in the Three Lions line-up by fellow Reds Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes, with Wes Brown on the bench. Veron was substituted at half-time after Becks had crashed in the only goal of the game from the penalty spot.

Portugal 1 Netherlands 0 (2006)
Caught up in the ‘Battle of Nuremberg’, United duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Edwin van der Sar were two of the few players who avoided disciplinary action in a compellingly brutal encounter. Four red cards and 16 yellow cards – a FIFA record – were brandished, with Khalid Boulahrouz picking up one for a cynical foul on Ronaldo, who departed injured shortly after Maniche had struck the game’s only goal. Meanwhile, Ruud van Nistelrooy watched on from the Dutch bench, unused but unharmed.

England 0 Portugal 0 (1-3 on pens, 2006)
A press fervour met the end of a tight goalless draw in Gelsenkirchen, where Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney were among the England players dumped out after a penalty shoot-out in which Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winner. A nation’s ire was split between the two United forwards, after Rooney stepped on Ricardo Carvalho and Ronaldo was seen to be urging action from the referee, who promptly issued a red card.

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Portugal 0 France 1 (2006)
There were mixed emotions for United colleagues Louis Saha, Mikael Silvestre and Cristiano Ronaldo after a tense encounter in Munich. The outcome was decided by Zinedine Zidane’s first-half penalty, but United fans had five minutes of split loyalties when Saha joined Ronaldo on the field as a late substitute, only to sour his evening with a foul on Maniche which prompted his second booking of the tournament and thus ruled him out of the final through suspension.

Argentina 3 France 4 (2018)
United cohorts Marcos Rojo and Paul Pogba both started an all-time World Cup classic in Kazan, though only one of them finished it. Argentina defender Rojo was booked for hauling down the unplayable Kylian Mbappe early on, giving France a penalty to open the scoring. It was 1-1 at half-time, when the United defender was substituted, but thereafter the goals began to flow at a captivating rate, with France edging through.

Pogba takes a free-kick against Rojo's Argentina in 2018.

England 2 Sweden 0 (2018)
Victor Lindelof might have briefly thought he was at Carrington after Sweden’s defeat by England in Samara. Future Reds skipper Harry Maguire headed the opener, before United midfielder Jesse Lingard teed up Dele Alli’s clincher. Ashley Young was first on the scene to celebrate with the Spurs midfielder while, for good measure, Marcus Rashford enjoyed a late cameo to ensure the game finished with four Reds on the field.

France 1 Belgium 0 (2018)
En route to the final showdown with Croatia, Paul Pogba’s France side had to overcome the substantial hurdle of Belgium, whose number included Reds duo Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku. For all the attacking talent on both sides, however, the tense encounter was settled by defender Samuel Umtiti, who stole ahead of Fellaini to nod home a corner. The United midfielder later arrowed his own header just wide as the French advanced to the final.