Axel Tuanzebe – Manchester United’s unlikely hero in Paris

Tuanzebe returned after a 10-month gap and shut out Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, arguably two of the best attacking talents in the world, in a 2-1 Champions League group stage win for Manchester United at Paris Saint-Germain.

October 22, 2020 11:38:24 am

For long-time Manchester United supporters, Axel Tuanzebe may be a well-known name – a reputation instantly related to pools of potential but also with a career interrupted by multiple injuries. On Tuesday, Tuanzebe returned after a 10-month gap and exclude Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, arguably two of the simplest attacking talents within the world, during a 2-1 Champions League group stage win for Manchester United at Paris Saint-Germain.

What Tuanzebe did

There were a few of moments in United’s away trip to the Parc des Princes where all Mbappe could do was scratch his head and appearance wide-eyed at the referee. On one occasion, Mbappe was through on goal with acres of space and just goalkeeper David de Gea to beat. But Tuanzebe displayed speed – a rare commodity during a recent Manchester United defence. He trapped with the French star and managed to push him off as De Gea collected the ball and averted the danger.

There was another instance where Tuanzebe and Mbappe collided. This time, the forward cut inside to his left and was millimetres faraway from pulling the trigger. But the United defender used his upper body strength to carry him off and obtain the ball, ensuring that the shot never happened . Mbappe, the youngest player to ever score during a World Cup final since Pele, was thwarted again.

What did the stats say

Tuanzebe ended the sport with a 92 per cent completion rate. He won 100 per cent of the aerial duels he contested. He made an important block to stay United within the game during a period where PSG were looking to attain . The defender also managed seven clearances within the victory and only conceded two fouls.

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While the statistics by themselves aren’t extraordinary, Tuanzebe had returned from injury when he took his spot against Colchester United during a Carabao game in December 2019. He had to be began therein game after 65 minutes and it appeared like yet one more ‘what if’ moment for him.

To go from playing his last match against a League Two team and a 10-month layoff to then facing the Champions League runners-up may need appeared like a challenge too stiff, but Tuanzebe jumped and landed perfectly.

What he said

An aspect of the defender recognised by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is his ability to be a pacesetter on the pitch. within the post-match presser, Tuanzebe once more showed why he’s rated so highly by United when he said, “We showed PSG respect, but ultimately we’re the larger team and that we want to dominate and obtain the three points.”

The 22-year old also spoke about his injury layoff. “I’m feeling okay. You train hard for this [big Champions League games]. I’ve been with the rehab team and they’ve been getting me in a day and dealing me hard for these sorts of moments, and it’s finally paid off.”


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