Marouane Fellaini produced a midfield masterclass from the bench during Manchester United’s 3-0 win over FC Basel in the Champions League.
The Belgian was introduced after just 16 minutes following Paul Pogba’s hamstring injury and powered home a crucial header after 35 minutes to give the hosts a deserved lead.
He continued to harass the Swiss champions in the first half, serving as an intractable blockade whilst also popping up in attacking positions all over the pitch – something crystallised by his assist for Marcus Rashford late on.
The numbers from the game shed light on what was a truly masterful display in midfield from the 29-year-old.
Fellaini's game by numbers vs. Basel:
75% aerial duels won
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 12, 2017
There was an unquestionable air of apprehension encircling Old Trafford as Pogba limped down the tunnel. Where would Man United’s impetus in midfield come from now?
But any questions were promptly swept aside by a fuzzy headed midfielder whose talent no longer needs to be questioned. If I told you in 2013 that, four years from now, we would be hailing Fellaini as the Belgian Zidane after a mesmerising display in the Champions League, you would send me to the nearest clinic, but such is Fellaini’s propensity for constantly defying the critics, belying the agendas, and, in this case, steamrolling opposition midfielders.
It was poetry in motion: whenever Basel surged forward Fellaini would sweep up possession, turn elegantly, and set up an attack of his own. And by the end, he was toying around with them.