Our World Cup group-by-group preview, exploring Manchester United’s relationship with the countries competing in Qatar, has reached Group C, which contains Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia.
PLAYERS PAST AND PRESENT…
Argentina is one of the best represented foreign nations in United’s history, with Lisandro Martinez and Alejandro Garnacho extending the list to eight this year. Juan Sebastian Veron, signed in 2001, was our first player from the South American country, while Gabriel Heinze and Carlos Tevez also contributed to Premier League title wins in the 2000s. Three members of the Argentina squad which made it to the 2014 World Cup final later joined United, with Marcos Rojo making 122 appearances – the most of any Argentinian Red. Sergio Romero was a reliable cup goalkeeper, playing a significant role in the 2017 Europa League success, while Angel Di Maria played for a single season before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in 2015.
We’ve had one player from Mexico. Javier Hernandez, or ‘Chicharito’ as he was nicknamed, was a much-loved member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final two title-winning squads, scoring 59 times in 157 appearances between 2010 and 2015.
Who does Licha remind Dimitar of? And what does the Bulgarian think of our other summer signings?
United’s only Polish player to date was Tomasz Kuszczak. The goalkeeper initially signed on loan from West Brom in 2006, claiming a Premier League winners’ medal through special dispensation after making six league appearances. We then made his deal permanent and he stayed with the club for a further five years, proving an able deputy to Edwin van der Sar as United hoovered up domestic trophies.
As yet, no Saudi Arabian has represented the Reds, or any Premier League club for that matter.
ARE THERE ANY CURRENT REDS IN THIS GROUP?
Just Martinez, who has been selected by Albiceleste boss Lionel Scaloni for the tournament in Qatar. The former Ajax man has only appeared 10 times for his country since making his debut in 2019, but his early Premier League performances at United clearly caught the eye and he’ll be hoping to play a big part for one of the competition’s early favourites.
ANY OTHER LINKS?
After winning the European Cup in 1968, United were pitted against Copa Libertadores champions Estudiantes, who hail from the Argentinian city of La Plata, in the Intercontinental Cup. Nobby Stiles was sent off as United lost a bad-tempered away leg 1-0, and things didn’t get much friendlier in the Old Trafford return. This time George Best saw red as, despite Willie Morgan’s late leveller, a goal from Veron’s father Juan Ramon claimed the title for the South Americans.
There was also a United sending-off in our only meeting with a Mexican side. David Beckham was given his marching orders for a high tackle on Jose Millian during an entertaining Club World Cup encounter with Necaxa in 2000. The game finished 1-1, with Dwight Yorke bundling home the equaliser, moments after missing a penalty.
United have come up against four different Polish sides over two legs, winning three of the four ties – all of them coming during victorious European campaigns. We beat Gornik Zabrze 2-1 on aggregate in the 1968 European Cup quarter-finals, while Legia Warsaw were the semi-final victims on the way to European Cup Winners’ Cup success 23 years later. In 1998, LKS Lodz provided the opposition in the Champions League qualifying rounds, as we embarked on the greatest season of all. The only Polish side to knock us out of Europe were LKS’ city rivals Widzew, who were away-goals winners in the 1980 UEFA Cup.
We haven’t played a Saudi Arabian team in a competitive fixture, although we did play Al-Hilal in a Riyadh friendly in January 2008, the game ending 3-2 to the home side.
Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia can all profess links with the Reds over the years.
DO UNITED HAVE ANY SUPPORT IN THESE COUNTRIES?
United have supporters’ clubs in Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia, although a branch is yet to be set up in Argentina. We’d love to hear from any Argentinian Reds out there!
GROUP C: THE FIXTURES
Tuesday 22 November
Argentina v Saudi Arabia (10:00 GMT)
Mexico v Poland (16:00 GMT)
Saturday 26 November
Poland v Saudi Arabia (13:00 GMT)
Argentina v Mexico (19:00 GMT)
Wednesday 30 November
Poland v Argentina (19:00 GMT)
Saudi Arabia v Mexico (19:00 GMT)
Find out how the Reds are connected to each of the Group A nations in Qatar.
Find out how the Reds are linked to each of the nations in the Group B.
The World Cup may be on, but our men, women and Academy teams are all in action between now and the final.
What will the 16 Reds competing in Qatar be wearing on the backs of their jerseys?
Garnacho: I'm so proud to score in this shirt