Manchester United will travel to Istanbul tonight for their most important game of the season so far. Manager Erik ten Hag and his players know that if they lose to Galatasaray, it will be the end of their story in the Champions League.
The Red Devils come into the game in last place in Group A with just three points, having lost three of their previous four games, including a sensational 3-3 defeat to Gallagher at Old Trafford last month.
The atmosphere at Ali Sami Yen Stadium will be fiery, with 50,<> fans pushing their team to another win. History also stands with the Turks. United had never scored in Istanbul against Galatasaray in their previous three matches, an "achievement" they had not recorded against any other European opponent.
Despite this, United are optimistic, thanks in part to the best results in the league recently. They have won five of their last six games, including a 0-3 win over Everton earlier this week, and are just six points clear of leaders Arsenal.
Ali Sami Yen Stadium. It will be boiling, photo: AFP
World Goal of the Year?
But with all due respect to United's 3 points on Sunday and the continued momentum in the league, only one thing will be remembered from the game against Everton: the wonderful goal scored by 19-year-old Argentine Alejandro Garnacho in the third minute.
Gary Neville, a former United player and now one of England's top pundits, was excited: "It was the most beautiful hairdresser's goal I've ever seen in my life. And you know, I was there on the pitch when Wayne Rooney scored with the famous hairdresser against Manchester City."
Around the kingdom, it is convinced that not only is this the sure winner of the title of "Goal of the Season" in England, even though we are only in November – it will also win the "Puskas Award", the most beautiful goal in the world.
The truth - everything that is said is true. Diogo Dalot picked up the ball from the inaccurate right, and Garnacho had to take a few steps back to reach it. Then he rose to an enormous height above the ground, and with his back to the goal sent a ballistic missile into Jordan Pickford's far posts.
Alejandro Garnacho's goal, Photo: Getty Images
The comparisons were not long in coming. Naturally, United fans remembered Rooney's goal in February 2011. Many others mentioned Cristiano Ronaldo's crazy goal for Real Madrid against Juventus in April 2018. By the way, Garnacho is an avid fan of the Portuguese phenomen, and the goal is celebrated just like his idol, with the famous jump next to the Foundation flag.
Although he is an Argentina national team player, Ronaldo is the inspiration of Garnacho and not Leo Messi. Also because he scored his first goal for United a year ago in a 0-1 win over Sociedad from an assist by Cristiano, in what turned out to be the Portuguese's penultimate game for the club.
Ten Hag tried after the game to calm the festival around Garnacho. "I don't think it's right to make comparisons with Ronaldo and Rooney," the Dutch coach said. "He has a long way to go. He has to work hard and do it on a regular basis, scoring 20 or 25 Premier League goals every season. What is more, it has the potential to go far. In training we've already seen him score goals like that."
Who did it better ?
Like for @agarnacho7 Retweet for @WayneRooney pic.twitter.com/5CXEP4651P
— King Of Dreams (@Kingofdreams01) November 26, 2023
"sting" Garnacho has been at United for more than three years. He was bought from Atletico Madrid when he was 16 for half a million euros. And the truth is that he's Spanish at all. He was born in Madrid to a Spanish father, Alex, and an Argentine mother, Patricia. Two years ago, he also played three times for Spain's youth team.
When it turned out that his mother was Argentine, the association in Buenos Aires decided to take action. In March 2022, while Garnacho was still in United's youth team, he received a call-up to Argentina's extended squad for World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela and Ecuador.
He did not play in those games, but that was the moment when the decision was made: Argentina and not Spain. After excelling in the Albiceleste's youth team last year, so did his appearances in the senior team.
Five months ago, he came on as a substitute in a friendly against Australia and collaborated with Messi for the first time. In September, he played in a 0-3 victory over Bolivia in World Cup qualifiers. This time it was already an official game, which "locks" him in Argentina for the rest of his career.
Even though he's only 19 years old, Garnacho shows plenty of maturity and confidence on the pitch – and off the field. Two months ago, he became a father when his girlfriend Eva gave birth to his first son, Enzo.
Tonight in Istanbul, Alejandro Garnacho will need to be at his peak to help the Red Devils emerge safely from the Turkish volcano. If he does, and even if it doesn't be with a connection narrator, he will be on the fast track to becoming a Manchester United legend.
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Garnacho makes Ronaldo., Photo: AFP
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