Football Fiesta in Santa Clara sees Manchester United beat Barcelona

There is something very refreshing about pre-season football.

The fact that there is nothing but pride at stake regularly facilitates great spectacle and liberal football matches.

Gone is the pressure of in-season competition. As well as gaining their match fitness, these giants of the football world are there, after all, to proliferate their brands around the world.

Even in a country which has football as its fourth most popular sport Barcelona and Manchester United are revered guests and The Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara saw a packed house for a fixture which could feasibly be repeated in The Champions League Final next May.

The one disappointment for the fans was that Lionel Messi wasn’t selected after his exertions in The Copa America. Neymar was also rested for the same reason.

But the third member of that deadly Barcelona triumvirate, Luis Suarez, was playing and had a realistic shout for Man of The Match. He looked as if he had never been away and tore chunks out of the Manchester United rearguard for the hour or so that he was on the pitch.

He hit the post with a free kick early on and twisted the blood of centre back pairing Phil Jones and Daley Blind all afternoon – they will certainly know that they were in a game.

But they, along with the rest of the victorious Manchester United team, were well-drilled and diligent.

They deserved their victory for the sheer determination and work rate that they offered to this wonderful spectacle.

And Manchester United are clearly developing well under Louis van Gaal. Now a year into the job, he has added solidity and sparkle to this squad.

Morgan Schneiderlin adds the solidity. He was quietly efficient in snuffing out attacks and will make a real difference to Manchester United this season.

And the sparkle came from Memphis Depay who showed, sporadically, the sort of qualities that he will bring to this team.

Playing again in the hole behind Wayne Rooney, he demonstrated explosive pace and the odd, world class flick to keep attacks going just as they looked to be fizzling out.

He is still a work in progress but his addition gives Manchester United an entirely new dimension. They once more have genuine pace in the centre of their team.

So it’s looking good for Manchester United who scored through Rooney, Lingard and Januzaj. Barcelona replied with a superb goal from Rafinha but the match had already been won at this point.

We would not be at all surprised to see these two meet again in the latter stages of The Champions League.

You can see highlights of the game here

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