Updated: Saturday, 15th August 2020 @ 4:04pm

Icing on the cake: Mata eyes Spain World Cup role after impressive first season at Manchester United

Icing on the cake: Mata eyes Spain World Cup role after impressive first season at Manchester United

| By Richard Browne

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata hopes that his increased playing time since his January move to Old Trafford will increase his chances of success in the upcoming World Cup.

Mata, who joined United for a club record £37million, is expected to start for Spain in their World Cup warm-up match against Bolivia tonight.

He was named in Vicente del Bosque’s provisional World Cup squad alongside club team-mate David De Gea, as well as Manchester City players Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and David Silva.

Speaking to Laureus, Mata said: “The last three or four months for me were great.  I played a lot.  I scored some goals.  So I am looking forward to being there and to try my best for the team.”

If selected in Del Bosque’s final 23, to be named on June 2, Mata will be making his second World Cup appearance after also featuring in Spain’s victorious 2010 squad.

"I think it's a privilege for every player to be here, to be in the 23 that travel to the World Cup and I will try my best as I always did.

"The World Cup is the most important competition.  When you are a football player and you want to play for your country, you always dream to play in a World Cup.

"This year, it's in Brazil, a proper football country, and for us it would be a dream to go there and to try to win again."

Although he only featured for 20 minutes in 2010, coming on as a substitute in the 2-0 win over Honduras, Mata said: “Winning the World Cup for Spain and being part of the squad was probably my best moment in my career and one of the best moments in my life.

"I think we are like a family.  We have known each other for a long time.  We have played together for the last six, eight years.  So we feel really comfortable between us, and I think this is the key."

His record of six goals and four assists since coming to Old Trafford may stand him in good stead to play more of an active part this year, despite Spain’s wealth of midfield options.

Mata also reflected on his new start at Manchester United, and his desire to help them bounce back from their disastrous 2013-14 season.

“It's been a difficult year, but I think this season we will improve and we will try to win again, because Manchester United is about winning and fighting for titles,” he said.

On new United manager Louis van Gaal, he said: “He is a very experienced manager. He likes to play in an offensive way, so hopefully he can bring success and trophies to the club and to the players.”

Mata also had praise for Wayne Rooney, the stand-out player in what Mata described as a ‘talented’ England World Cup squad.


He said: “I think they have great young players and a talented squad.  For example, Wayne Rooney, who is my team-mate now, is a world-class player.”

Mata is a Sport for Good Foundation Ambassador for Laureus (www.laureus.com), a charity which uses sport to help millions of children worldwide through sport.

Main image courtesy of Laureus, with thanks.