Man City v Man Utd: Three key FA Cup final battles

Football
By AFP | May 24, 2024
A mural depicting Manchester Derby stars ahead of the FA Cup final.[Sports Design Australia, X]

Manchester City face arch-rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final on Saturday in a repeat of last season's showpiece at Wembley.

AFP Sport looks at three key battles that will help decide the match.

Rodri v Bruno Fernandes

Manchester City's incredible success has been built on the rock-solid foundations laid by Rodri in midfield.

The influential Spain star has not lost any of the past 50 Premier League matches in which he has featured for City.

It was fitting Rodri scored City's decisive third goal in the 3-1 win against West Ham that clinched an unprecedented fourth successive English title on Sunday.

Rodri's intelligent reading of the game, muscular presence in the tackle and eye for a crucial goal have been vital ingredients in City's insatiable appetite for success.

"We're so excited with what we achieved, but the repercussions of what we've done, to change the history of the club, I think we will only realise in a few years," Rodri said as City bid to become the first English team to win consecutive Premier League and FA Cup doubles.

His next mission will be to subdue United captain Bruno Fernandes, who is looking to lift just his second trophy during his four-spell with the club.

The 29-year-old has been linked with a close-season move to Saudi Arabia, with Bayern Munich also said to be interested.

But in a disappointing season for United, the Portugal midfielder has retained the capacity to lift his team with occasional moments of inspiration and has finished the season with a flurry of goals.

Erling Haaland v Andre Onana

It has been quite a season for City striker Erling Haaland, who finished as the Premier League's top scorer for a second successive year despite being written off as a League Two standard player.

Former Manchester United star Roy Keane's scathing assessment of Haaland might have roots in a feud with the Norwegian's father Alfie that dates back to their playing days.

But Keane was not the only one to question Haaland's value during an unusually quiet run that featured just two goals in seven games from early March to mid-April.

The prolific 23-year-old was clearly below the sky-high standards he set during a record-breaking first season with City.

But Haaland, who has scored 38 goals in all competitions this season, is a ferocious competitor and silenced his doubters with seven goals in his last five Premier League games as City stormed to the title.

Standing between Haaland and yet another medal will be United goalkeeper Andre Onana, whose maiden season at Old Trafford has been far from smooth sailing.

Onana was United manager Erik ten Hag's hand-picked replacement for David de Gea in the close season.

The 28-year-old Cameroon international, who played under the United boss at Ajax, arrived from Inter Milan with a reputation for flamboyant saves and the ability to start moves with his ball distribution.

But Onana has never looked entirely comfortable, making a series of costly blunders that have raised questions about his ability to handle the pressure and scrutiny of playing for United.

Alejandro Garnacho v Kyle Walker

Alejandro Garnacho has been one of the few bright spots for United in their troubled campaign and the emerging Argentine winger could be their best hope of shocking City.

The precocious 19-year-old has scored nine goals and provided five assists in all competitions, with his potent combination of skill and speed giving opposing defenders sleepless nights.

Garnacho's ability to exploit any gaps in Pep Guardiola's defence should ensure he is under constant surveillance from City captain Kyle Walker.

Fresh from lifting the Premier League trophy last weekend, England right-back Walker is looking to add yet more silverware to his enormous collection.

The 33-year-old still has pace to burn, giving him a chance to subdue the electric Garnacho and lead City to more glory.

Share this story
Faith leads chase for glory as Olympics squad is unveiled
Athletics Kenya unveils team that will do battle at Olympics Games.
Omanyala, Wanyonyi race to world leads at Nyayo Stadium
Africa’s fastest man says he is getting better by each event after clocking 9.79.
Defending champions Italy recover from disastrous start to win Euro 2024 opener
Nedim Bajrami stunned the Italians after giving Albania a 23 seconds lead.
SCHOOLS: Nyakach Girls shine in Kisumu County rugby sevens
Nyakach came from 10-0 down at the break to thrash Ojola 32-10.
SCHOOLS: Maseno School win Kisumu County rugby sevens title
Fidel Patrick scored the lone try as the hosts retained the title after 7-0 win over Otieno Oyoo.
.
RECOMMENDED NEWS