United's £27.5m man shows van Gaal another string to his bow

Following his goal-scoring appearance in Belgium's last match, Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini played well in defensive-midfield against Russia.

Following his super-sub show against Algeria in Belgium's opening World Cup match, it was no surprise to see Marouane Fellaini start the second game against Russia.

The Manchester United midfielder may have had a domestic campaign to forget, but he turned the first game on its head, leaving Marc Wilmots with little choice but to select him from the start.  So how did Fellaini do against Fabio Capello's men?

As you can see from the Opta stats below he was not as effective in front of goal, having one scoring attempt (which failed to find the target) and playing one key pass.  But that was due to his position on the pitch as much as anything else.

Against Algeria, Fellaini's arrival introduced a frantic element to the game, as the imposing United man simply put himself about in the opposition box and watched havoc reign.  But on Sunday afternoon, his style was slightly more refined as he sat alongside Axel Witsel and allowed Belgium's front-four to do what they do best.

  Key PassTotal Scoring AttemptOn-target Scoring Attempt
Marouane Fellaini 1 1 0

In that area he won two tackles, and was not fouled - which shows that when he uses his frame right he is hard to bustle off the ball fairly or otherwise.  However, he did commit four fouls himself, something that was a regular occurrence for United last season as he had a habit of getting the man rather than the ball.

  Won TackleFoulsWas Fouled
Marouane Fellaini 2 4 0

His passing accuracy was good, seeing 81.4% of his passes reaching their intended target.  While he also got about the pitch using his height well to win five aerial duels and eight such battles on the ground.  

  Passing AccuracyDuel WonAerial WonInterception Won
Marouane Fellaini 81.4% 8 5 1

Wilmots has already shown that he is not afraid to make changes and reward those who perform, and while Fellaini failed to make any headlines on Sunday, he did the job asked of him and should be rewarded with a starting-berth for the next important match Belgium play.

Now through to the knock-out stages, that may not be for a while yet.  But if he wants to prove to Louis van Gaal that he deserves another season at United, Fellaini is certainly going the right way about it.



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