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MANCHESTER UNITED PLC

(MANU)
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Manchester United : Nakamba Braces for Epic CR7 Showdown

09/22/2021 | 06:07am EDT

IT all started with Marshall Munetsi coming up face-to-face with the great Lionel Messi in a French Ligue 1 match, at Stade Auguste-Delaune II, on August 29.

Although his team lost 0-2, Munetsi received praise in the French media for the way he handled the pressure in his battle against Messi.

This coming weekend is also set to see another top Zimbabwean player -- Marvelous Nakamba -- bracing himself for one of his toughest matches, as a professional footballer.

The 27-year-old defensive midfielder, who has played for Nancy in France, Vitesse in the Netherlands and Club Brugge in Belgium, is now set to come up against Cristiano Ronaldo.

Aston Villa will be at Old Trafford for what promises to be an exciting English Premiership encounter against Manchester United, in front of a packed Theatre of Dreams.

Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d'Or award winner, recently surprised the football world when he dumped Italian Serie A serial winners, Juventus.

He moved back to the Red Devils, for an initial E15 million (£12,86m), after having been initially linked with cross-city rivals Manchester City.

Since rejoining United, Ronaldo has played in three games, scoring four times, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's revitalised side gun for their first English Premiership title, in eight years.

The 2012-13 season was the last time United won the league, under Sir Alex Ferguson, and hopes are high they might regain the title this season, following the return of one of their greatest sons.

United are currently joint leaders, with Chelsea and Liverpool, in the championship race with 13 points apiece, after five games.

They will resume their title chase with a tricky home fixture against Nakamba's Villa on Saturday afternoon.

Villa will arrive with their tails up, after an impressive 3-0 win over Everton at Villa Park, where Nakamba came on as a first-half substitute, and played a pivotal role, in his side's emphatic win.

Manager Dean Smith's charges are now placed in the middle of the 20-team table, with seven points from five games.

Their steady rise to the top will be severely tested when they face Ronaldo and company.

And, all Zimbabwean eyes will be on Villa, if manager Dean Smith decides to include our own son, Nakamba, in their starting line-up.

His brilliant performance, against Everton last Saturday, appears to suggest he will have a part to play in the showdown against the Red Devils.

"He replaced Douglas Luiz in the holding midfielder role, and this then allowed the Brazilian to operate in the areas (John) McGinn was previously roaming," journalist, Patrick Rowe, noted in The Birmingham Mail.

"It was this change that ultimately proved to be the deciding factor in this tough fixture against Everton.

"Nakamba possesses an innate ability to disrupt the opposition and it was no different in this game.

"He consistently broke the play up and halted any Everton player that came his way.

"His defensive ability is never in question, what fans do have doubts about is his ability on the ball. In this game however, he seemingly put this issue to bed.

"He had a pass completion rate of 95.2% after completing 20 passes. He looked confident and assured and his passing was crisp and direct to his teammates.

"These passes weren't just lateral or backwards either, he completed five passes to the final third, which was the second highest number within the team, behind only Tyrone Mings.

"He did an excellent job of not providing his teammates with possession but also progressing the team forward."

Smith has usually turned to Nakamba, for service, in matches against the heavyweight clubs, in which the Birmingham club will be expected to defend.

It will be interesting to see how Nakamba, if fielded, will handle the pressure in midfield tussles against the likes of Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Fred and Bruno Fernandes.

Having signed the likes of Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho over the summer, adding to established stars such as Fernandes and Pogba, big things are expected from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men.

Last Sunday, Manchester United struggled to beat a tough, and in-form West Ham, away in London.

On Saturday, Nakamba will be hoping they can catch Ronaldo, and company, on their off day.

Copyright The Herald. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com)., source News Service English

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Capitalization 1 969 M 2 707 M 2 707 M
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Joel Glazer Executive Co-Chairman
Avram A. Glazer Executive Co-Chairman
Robert Mark LeitŃo Independent Director
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