‘I think the great­est goal I’ve ever scored is the one against Liver­pool’

Messi, Ron­aldo the stars in Cla­sico XI

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

AN­THONY MAR­TIAL be­lieves his strike against Liver­pool on his Manch­ester United de­but ear­lier this sea­son is the best goal of his ca­reer so far.

There were ques­tion marks around United’s de­ci­sion to sanc­tion a deal which may rise to £58 mil­lion for the 19-year-old from Monaco when he re­placed Juan Mata af­ter 65 min­utes in Septem­ber for his de­but.

But with four min­utes left in the game, Mar­tial col­lected the ball wide on the left at Old Traf­ford, weaved in­side, slalomed be­tween Martin Skr­tel and Nathaniel Clyne and slot­ted clin­i­cally past Si­mon Mig­no­let.

It is ar­guably the finest en­trance by any United player – a stun­ning solo ef­fort against fierce ri­vals Liver­pool to seal an em­phatic 3- 1 Premier League vic­tory – and Mar­tial is aware of the sig­nif­i­cance.

“I think the great­est goal I’ve ever scored is the one against Liver­pool,” Mar­tial said. “It was amaz­ing for me and it re­ally made my name in the Manch­ester team.”

The France in­ter­na­tional has no prob­lem block­ing out the ex­pec­ta­tion that comes with play­ing for United and his na­tional team when he takes to the field of play – but re­vealed the sup­port from United fans helps him fend off tired­ness in the lat­ter stages of matches.

“When I get onto the pitch, I block out ev­ery­thing around it and I re­ally fo­cus on the pitch,’ Mar­tial said. “It’s like the sta­dium is empty and I’m re­ally fo­cused on my team and the op­pos­ing team.

“The best thing about play­ing foot­ball is mak­ing fans happy. The sup­port­ers help us a lot out on the pitch.

“The at­mos­phere at Old Traf­ford is re­ally unique and when you’re a bit tired, they re­ally help you, they shout out your name and that gives you ex­tra en­ergy. It is also be­cause of them that I’ve adapted eas­ily to Manch­ester.”

Mar­tial says that the all­con­quer­ing Barcelona side un­der Pep Guardi­ola is his favourite team of all time due to their foot­ball phi­los­o­phy.

The pos­ses­sion- based, at­tack­ing style im­ple­mented by Guardi­ola is a far cry from the stern de­fen­sive- based game Mar­tial’s boss at United, Louis van Gaal, over­sees.

The young striker’s three favourite play­ers of all time in­cludes Ron­aldo – but not the one that was a favourite at Old Traf­ford when Sir Alex Ferguson was man­ager of the club.

“I think the best team I’ve seen play is Barça dur­ing Pep Guardi­ola’s time,” Mar­tial re­vealed.

“I loved their game phi­los­o­phy. They had great play­ers in ev­ery po­si­tion and it re­ally made you want to play foot­ball when you watched them play.

“My three favourite play­ers were Ron­aldo, the Brazil­ian, Ronald­inho and ( Zine­dine) Zi­dane be­cause they’re play­ers who were beau­ti­ful to watch play and they’re ones who made me want to play foot­ball.”

Mar­tial, though, is ruled out of United’s game against Wat­ford to­day through in­jury.

He left Wem­b­ley on crutches af­ter France’s 2-0 de­feat by Eng­land. Van Gaal said he could have fea­tured but “it is bet­ter for him if he doesn’t”. – Daily Mail BE­TWEEN the two of them they have won the last two Cham­pi­ons Leagues, and their squads are al­most un­ri­valed in world foot­ball.

But how good a team could you put to­gether if you com­bined the first XIs of both Real Madrid and Barcelona? And which club would pro­vide most play­ers? Ahead of their first “El Cla­sico” of the sea­son tonight, we come up with a Real vs Barça team, as­sum­ing ev­ery­one was fit to play. GK – Key­lor Navas EIGH­TEEN months ago, when he was a Le­vante player, few would have imag­ined that Navas would be­come one of the world’s lead­ing goal­keep­ers.

And yet, af­ter a stun­ning few sea­sons, a stand­out World Cup, and Real’s in­abil­ity to close the deal for David de Gea, Navas is firmly first choice at the Bern­abeu, and has kept 10 clean sheets al­ready this sea­son. RB – Danilo PER­HAPS the weak­est point in ei­ther of the two line-ups, with Dani Alves past his peak, Danilo not yet the es­tab­lished world-class player he may well go on to be­come, and Dani Car­va­jal un­able to ce­ment his place. Danilo gets the nod for his at­tack­ing prow­ess. CB – Ser­gio Ramos THE ex­pe­ri­enced head at the heart of the Real de­fence and still a key per­former as Rafa Ben­itez builds a team that de­pends on sta­bil­ity rather than flair. In his 11 ap­pear­ances for club and coun­try this sea­son, his teams have con­ceded just five goals – and three of those came in one game. CB – Gerard Piqué ON FORM, it is hard to leave out Rafaël Varane, but Piqué gets the nod be­cause of his class and ex­pe­ri­ence. Another leader at cen­tre back, has last two games have both re­sulted in clean sheets, and his in­ter­na­tional part­ner­ship with Ramos is tried and tested. LB – Jordi Alba STILL a more im­pres­sive player go­ing for­ward than track­ing back, and gets the nod over Marcelo. The width he pro­vides in at­tack is cru­cial to free up the for­wards.

CM – Ivan Rakitic IT seems odd to pick a Cla­sico team with­out a proper hold­ing mid­fielder but de­spite the qual­i­ties of Ser­gio Bus­quets, Rakitic gets the nod. Not only the metro­nomic heart of his team, but also able to cre­ate chances out of noth­ing, and fin­ish them off. CM – Toni Kroos A STRAIGHT shootout be­tween Real’s two won­der­ful mid­field­ers Kroos and Luka Mo­dric. The former just gets the nod be­cause of his three as­sists this sea­son, to the lat­ter’s one. CM – An­drés Ini­esta AT the age of 31, Ini­esta may be on the de­cline... but no one seems to have told him that!

Still a vi­tal part of the way Barça play, still cre­at­ing chances, em­bar­rass­ing de­fend­ers, and en­ter­tain­ing fans. James Ro­dríguez is a su­perb player, but he can’t com­pare to the man who has won it all. LW – Lionel Messi HIS ab­sence hasn’t dam­aged Barça too much but Lionel Messi is still the best player in the world by a dis­tance. You could cre­ate any num­ber of plau­si­ble best front threes from the six play­ers at these two great clubs – but none of them would ex­clude Messi. His re­turn from in­jury could be the key fac­tor tonight. CF – Cris­tiano Ron­aldo RON­ALDO, by his own ridicu­lous stan­dards, has been slightly off the pace this sea­son, with only 13 goals in 15 games, and ru­mours of dis­quiet in his re­la­tion­ship with Ben­itez. But with Messi and Ney­mar pro­vid­ing the magic, he is in this team to do what he does best – fin­ish. Love him or loathe him, no one finds the back of the net like Ron­aldo. RW – Ney­mar IN Messi’s ab­sence, Ney­mar has proven him­self as a star in his own right. Five goals in his last three games – nine in eight since the Ar­gen­tine was in­jured – have shown he can step out of the shad­ows when needed. Now talked about as the sec­ond-best player in the world, be­hind Messi but ahead of Ron­aldo, if he can keep up his form when Messi comes backit won’t be long be­fore, at the very least, the big two be­comes a big three. – Daily Mail

AN­THONY MAR­TIAL: A fan of Zine­dine Zi­dane

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