‘I think the greatest goal I’ve ever scored is the one against Liverpool’
Messi, Ronaldo the stars in Clasico XI
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