Nemanja Matic produced an assured performance despite the final score; and will have attracted plenty of suitors.
As the two teams lined up before last night’s UEFA Europa League finale Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic stood side-by-side with Benfica’s Nemanja Matic and the two shared a friendly word; I imagine in their native tongue. Little did one Serbian know how the other would later prove the match-winner in the game.
For Matic this was more than just a Europa League final; it was an opportunity to overcome the Chelsea reject tag that has stuck with him ever since the London club let him go in 2011; and despite the result it was fair to say he has done that.
Matic was let go by Chelsea after playing just 65 minutes for the club during his short stint at the club and was used as bait in the deal that brought David Luiz to the club. Yesterday the two paired off against each other as Luiz was once again utilised in the midfield position; and you would have been hard pushed to tell which of the two the exchange player was after Matic put in a solid and assured performance.
The lack of difference in the pair’s performances was something noted by WhoScored.com in this infographic which shows just how evenly matched the two are this season:
Yesterday Matic demonstrated why he is being lauded as one of the best players in Portugal this season and linked with massive money deals to AS Monaco and Manchester United; because he really is that good.
Strong in the tackle, an excellent reader of the game and acting as a brilliant pivot for Benfica’s transitional attacking play; he looked every bit the one that got away.
Of course Chelsea were well compensated as David Luiz is turning out to be a remarkable talent; but imagine if they could have paired the two together in the middle of the park; Matic certainly looked like bringing more to the game than John Obi Mikel would have.
His performance also gave ammunition to the Chelsea boo-boys who find themselves unhappy at the way the club develops their younger players; with a lack of opportunities seeing talented individuals like Matic escaping their clutches.
What next for Matic? Well he is being strongly linked with a move and it seems at the right lofty price Benfica are more than willing to sell.
So do not be surprised if he is proving a point in the Premier League next season.
What did you make of Nemanja Matic’s performance?
image: © Yoca91