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Van Gaal Pleased With Win Over Barcelona, But Focus Is On Tottenham

Manchester United grabbed a 3-1 victory over FC Barcelona in front of over 68,000 at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday as United stay perfect on the U.S. Tour. The Red Devils now have three straight wins going into the game against Paris Saint-Germain in Chicago on Wednesday.

Wayne Rooney opened up the scoring for United against Barcelona with a header. Rooney was once again playing striker with Memphis Depay playing behind him in the number 10 position. United manager Louis van Gaal spoke about how the two players try to link up at the press conference following the game.

“Yes I think they try to do their utmost best to look for each other and sometimes I think too much. It should be better when we have a wider orientation, but I think they were always a threat and that is very important,” said van Gaal. “I think Barcelona could not cope with the threat of Depay and Rooney, but I have to say that Adnan Januzaj was also a big threat for them in the 30 minutes that he played as a striker. That is good to see.”

Barcelona had the majority of the ball possession and managed to hit the post three times during the game, but United were effective in the final third as they scored three goals on six shot on net.

Van Gaal also spoke about the prolonged time the team has spent in the Bay Area as opposed to the last preseason tour a year ago when the team flew all over the United States.

“Last year we had to fly on different time schedules. Now we have two weeks on the same time schedule. We have better facilities,” said van Gaal. “The Seahawks’ facility was a fantastic place to train. Now we have also found fantastic facilities at Avaya Stadium but also at Stanford University. We shall train there on Monday two times. Overall we have had a better training camp.

He did stress that although the camp has been going well and the team has three wins, the most important thing is to get a good start to the Premier League season that start on Aug. 8.

“We had one last year also and it doesn’t say anything because we lost the first match against Swansea City,” said van Gaal. “That is why I have said the whole tour that the most important game is not Paris Saint-Germain or Barcelona, but against Tottenham Hotspur.”

Beating a Barcelona is always nice, but it was a team that was without Lionel Messi and Neymar. Luis Suarez played a really good game, and if it wasn’t for the post, he could have walked away with two goals. Rafinha scored for Barcelona in the second half to make it 2-1 after Jesse Lingard had added on the United’s lead, but in the attack following Rafinha’s goal, Adnan Januzaj made it 3-1 United.

The main objective for the preseason tour is to get ready for a long and grueling Premier League season combined with trying to qualify for the Champions League. After finishing fourth last season, van Gaal and the players want to build on that and challenge for the title. Midfielder Michael Carrick spoke to the media in the mixed zone after the Barcelona game about the feeling in the squad.

“The performance was good all things considered … You take what you can from games like this and gauge where you’re at,” said Carrick. “At the end of the day, Tottenham first game of the season is the one you judge the most.”

United will finish up the U.S. tour, which is part of the International Champions Cup, with a game against French league champions Paris SG on Wednesday in Chicago at Soldier Field. The team will then head back to Manchester to prepare for the season opener against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Aug. 8.

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