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Player Focus: Nemanja Matic- The Impenetrable Wall

Nemanja Matic

During Nemanja Matic’s stint at Chelsea, I never looked out to appreciate the strength and qualities he possessed as a player. But after he moved to Old Trafford, I truly got the chance to analyse his play.

Nemanja Matic joined Manchester United for £40m plus bonuses from Stamford Bridge. Though not a cheap sum, but the way this transfer window has been conducted we might have got him for a paltry sum.

Where prices are being sky-high for players shining for only one season, a player for his quality already proven his worth in one of the most competitive leagues in the world has come for nothing.

Under Jose Mourinho, Matic was able to come into limelight as a perfect defensive midfielder to support the team.

Tried and tested in the Premier League, it’s no surprise why Mourinho trusts his qualities so much. He can prove to become the most important signing for the Red Devils in this summer window.

Chelsea re-signed Nemanja Matic from Benfica in 2014 for a sum fives times the original amount he was sold for by the Blues during the second managerial period of Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.

Here in this article, I discuss the special qualities of Nemanja Matic which makes him an integral part for United this season.

Provides balance to the team

The perfect buzzword for Mourinho’s success along these years is balance. For each team the Portugese has managed, his main tactic is to create a balance in the midfield.

Nemanja Matic

During his term at Real Madrid, his team managed to set records for most wins in a season, most away wins, most goals scored with a positive goal difference of 89. His team won the league title that season with most points (100).

Nemanja Matic provides the same kind of balance in the midfield Mourinho wishes to create. Matic was the heart of midfield for Chelsea under Jose Mourinho.

Matic is one the best defensive midfielders Premier League has ever seen. He drops down deep during defending providing solidification to the defense.

He acts as the guard for the defense line making key interceptions and tackles whenever needed.

Another great aspect of the Serbian’s game is his ability to provide key passes to the wingers whenever he finds space.

His quality to adapt made him a great No. 10 at Benfica. This shows his nature to move forward during attack.

The control on the ball by the Serbian provides great stability to team.

Build space and time for the strikers

Players like Marouane Fellaini does not yield well to pressing football due to bad first touch. While Matic has a great first touch helping him evade situations like these with ease.

Matic provides quick passes and holds the ball as required by the situation. He played great small touch passes with Fabregas at Chelsea.

In case of pressing opponents, Matic holds the ball until the players get close to him. This creates gaps in defenses and helps the attackers get ample time to get forward and properly placed.

Pacy players like Rashford, Mkhitaryan, Martial take advantage of these gaps to break defenses and make runs towards opponents goal.

Nemanja Matic

Break defense lines

His quality to provide long passes often results in goals. He is perfect box-to-box midfielder in the Premier League.

Another feature of the Serbian’s game is fooling with the defense lines by manipulating the opponent by using body feints. Nemanja Matic’s unpredictable game often confuses the players in making mistakes.

Matic’s body feints opens up passing lanes. He has a good range of long passing which opens the defenses of the opponents while them being unaware.

His through balls often sets up opportunities for strikers for a goal.

Nemanja Matic: The defensive giant

On the ball, the Serbian is a complete rock. It takes great effort to dislodge him off the ball.

Nemanja Matic tries to retain the ball for a longer time. This helps him to win fouls while attempts by opposition players to win the ball.

The defensive midfielder knows when to slow and speed up on the field. His ability to anticipate players moves goes to his advantage in defending.

Unlike other players, Nemanja Matic uses his height to advantage. His big stature helps him to block balls on the air. Even on the ground, he blocks the view of the crosser with his height.

Nemanja Matic

During defending, he acts as the second blocker when an aggressive player presses for the ball. This tactic always works as the attacker cannot dribble around two players at the same moment easily.

Nemanja Matic gives his front line and co-midfielders plenty of freedom to move forward while they know the Serbian has their back during a sudden counter-attack.

This aspect has helped in the past at Chelsea when Oscar or Fabregas played beside him. At Manchester United, this will prove to be helpful for Paul Pogba.

In the first three matches of the season, Pogba exercised his liberty to full use. Advancing at will was exactly the cause for defenses to break due to his long shots.

Expert in breaking deep blocks

Teams at the lower end of the table use deep blocks to stop strikers getting free in the D-box. This is the main reason why its some time more difficult to beat them.

The lower ranked teams often prefers a draw than losing due to gaps in their defense during the end of the season.

In such cases, Nemanja Matic is of great help. He has great long shots to add to his book. The shots are very precise and accurate with speed.

This might help United to convert some of the draws to wins which plagued the Red Devil’s previous season.


Nemanja Matic is a consistent, loyal and dependable player for any team he plays for may it be Benfica, Chelsea or Manchester United.

What Manchester United paid for him is a real bargain. A proven player, Nemanja Matic is underrated but always performs the same and gives his hundred percent on the field.

His countryman and former United centre-back Vidic told

“He’s a very good signing for us. He’s a top player for the position and I’m surprised that Antonio Conte let him go. He played most of their games last season and did really well, so I didn’t expect him to be sold to one of their biggest rivals. The way he’s played in his first few games suggests he is a United player.”

Jose Mourinho referred him as a ‘genius’. According to Manchester United Official website, Mourinho stated:

“I think he’s one of these players where there are no question marks in front. He doesn’t need time to adapt, he’s not a young guy who came from another country, he’s not somebody that needs to learn the Premier League.”

“And that’s something I really like in players – consistency. It’s the way I trust the player is going to perform, so I think it was a fantastic signing for us.”

Will Matic prove to be the signing we needed so far to win the Premier League?

Its only a matter of time before he proves to be influential for the Red Devils to bring back the glory days.

Hope to see United end their four year wait for a Premier League title.

Please share your views in the comments section below.

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Amiya Saha
Avid follower of Manchester United FC. Have blind faith on the Red Devils at any point. Waiting to see Manchester United bring back the Ferguson era. Has a dream to watch Manchester United play at Old Trafford live.

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