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Nemanja Matic is perhaps the definition of an unsung hero in modern football - the sort of player who makes a team tick, with minimum fuss but maximum efficiency.

The Serbia international may share four syllables of his name with a fellow countryman who made a hugely endearing impact at Old Trafford, Nemanja Vidic, but he is a very different type of footballer. Tough, yes, but rather than being an out-and-out warrior like the former centre-back, he's a world-class holding midfielder who screens the defence and allows other attacking players to flourish. After starting his senior career with FK Kolubara, a Serbian side based in Lazarevac, Matic really made his mark in Slovakia with Kosice. Chelsea snapped him up in 2009 and he was loaned out to Vitesse Arnhem a year later. Benfica signed Matic on a permanent deal when negotiating the sale of Brazil international David Luiz to Stamford Bridge in January 2011 and, on the advice of manager Jorge Jesus, Nemanja became a successful no.6 following his previous years as a no.10. That educational spell in Portugal convinced Chelsea to resign their former player in January 2014 and it proved to be a shrewd move, after Matic instantly helped Jose Mourinho’s Blues to win the Premier League title that season. “He is a giant of a player,” the manager told reporters that May. Mourinho left Chelsea midway through the difficult 2014/15 campaign, but Matic remained and later claimed his second championship crown under Antonio Conte in 2016/17. Although he made 44 appearances that campaign, scoring two goals, including a wonder strike in the FA Cup semi-final, United made a shock move for the Serbian and he was reunited with Mourinho at Old Trafford in July 2017. The Serbian was thrown straight into the United side for the UEFA Super Cup tie against Real Madrid and made his Premier League debut for the club on the opening day of the season against West Ham. Matic was a mainstay of United’s Champions League campaign. He appeared in every Champions League group stage game apart the Red’s final match against CSKA Moscow, when qualification for the last 16 was all but secured. The Serbian featured in both knockout legs against Sevilla. Matic endeared himself to the United faithful with a stunning stoppage time strike against Crystal Palace to seal a 3-2 comeback for the Reds. The Serbian's effort won the 2017/18 Goal of the Season at the United Player of the Year awards in what was an impressive debut season.

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    Real Madrid (N)

To work with Jose Mourinho once again was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.


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Nemanja Matic for Serbia.
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Two United stars could face each other when Nemanja Matic's Serbia meet Fred's Brazil, in their final Group E match in Moscow at 19:00 BST.

Nemanja Matic in action for Serbia against Costa Rica at the World Cup.
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Nemanja Matic and Serbia will be looking for a second successive win in Group E, when facing Switzerland in Kaliningrad at 19:00 BST.

Nemanja Matic in a Serbia tracksuit

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Nemanja Matic explains what it means to play in a World Cup for the first time.

Nemanja Matic in action for Serbia.
Sunday 17 June

Nemanja Matic’s Serbia take on Costa Rica in their Group E opener in Samara (kick-off 13:00 BST).

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David De Gea.
Today's international friendlies
* All kick-off times in BST says

Serbia (Matic) v Bolivia at 17:00 | Sweden (Lindelof) v Peru at 18:15 | Tunisia v Spain (De Gea) at 19:45 | France (Pogba) v USA (Olosunde) at 20:00

Marcus Rashford representing England.

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Nemanja Matic of Serbia.
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Nemanja Matic's Serbia face Chile, for whom Alexis Sanchez is still rested, in a friendly at the UPC-Arena in Austria (kick-off 19:00 BST).

Marcos Rojo in action for Argentina

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