We take a look at how all 15 Manchester United players fared in the opening round of World Cup group games. Credit: Getty.
The first round of World Cup group-stage fixtures have been played, with all 32 sides now kicking off their campaigns in Qatar.
Overall, 11 Manchester United players were involved in the first batch of matches, with the stars from Old Trafford having mixed fortunes from their respective opening fixtures. We’ve rounded up how all 15 Red Devils fared during the first few days of the World Cup.
Some of United’s best performances from the opening round of games came in England’s 6-2 win over Iran, with Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford were involved. The latter scored the Three Lions’ fifth goal in the Group B encounter, while Shaw set up Jude Bellingham’s opener.
It was a slightly less successful afternoon for Maguire at the Khalifa International Stadium with the defender taken off due to illness, although he had played well prior to the substitution and is expected to return in time for the clash with USA on Friday.
Bruno Fernandes also looked good as Portugal beat Ghana 3-2 on Thursday, with the Red Devils No.8 providing two assists, while former United man Cristiano Ronaldo scored a penalty in the second half. The first round of matches ended with Brazil, who beat Serbia 2-0 courtesy of a Richarlison brace. Casemiro played the full 90 minutes in that encounter and hit the crossbar late on, while Fred and Antony were introduced off the bench late on.
Room for improvement
Only one United player suffered an opening-game loss in Qatar, and that was Lisandro Martinez with Argentina. One of the pre-tournament favourites, Lionel Messi and co were on the wrong end of one of the greatest World Cup upsets ever, as Saudi Arabia beat the South American champions 2-1. Martinez came off the bench in the second half, and saw his header deflect wide in the 63rd minute.
Christian Eriksen was also in action as Denmark played out a 0-0 draw with Tunisia on Tuesday, with the United midfielder failing to pull the strings as he so often has done at club level this season. Meanwhile, youngster Hannibal came on in the second half but didn’t have much of an impact on proceedings.
It was a similar story for Facundo Pellistri, who played 88 minutes in Uruguay’s goalless stalemate against South Korea. The winger didn’t produce any moments of notable quality, but did put in a commendable defensive effort.
Who didn’t play?
Only four of United’s 15 stars in Qatar didn’t play in the opening games. Raphael Varane headed to the World Cup still nursing an injury he picked up last month, and was an unused substitute in France’s 4-1 win over Australia, with Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano selected at centre-back instead.
Tyrell Malacia also didn’t play as the Netherlands beat Senegal 2-0, with former United man Daley Blind instead selected at left-wing-back by Louis van Gaal. In the final two matches on Thursday, featuring Portugal and Brazil, Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles didn’t make it off the bench.