Home > Football > Spotlight on…Juan Manuel Mata

Spotlight on…Juan Manuel Mata

Juan Mata in action for Spain

For the latest instalment of the ‘Spotlight on…’ series, Sport Report journeys to Spain and takes a look at Spain and Valencia’s highly-rated and much sought-after midfielder Juan Manuel Mata.

Juan Mata is no stranger to fans of Spanish football and the Champions League. Since joining Valencia in 2007, the diminutive winger has impressed fans, managers and scouts alike. Originally a product of Real Madrid’s academy, Mata joined Valencia and soon found a regular starting place due to Vicente’s repeated injury problems. Mata’s interplay with fellow talented Spaniards David Silva and David Villa and exciting, crowd-pleasing style immediately made him a fan favourite. At the end of his first season at the Mestalla, he was voted Player of the Season by both the fans and his fellow players. He scored in the Copa del Rey final as Valencia beat Getafe 3-1 and finished the season with an impressive tally of nine goals.

The 2008-2009 season started well, with a particularly noteworthy performance against Deportivo in which he scored once and amassed three assists. He continued to impress and ended the season with 14 goals, a total he matched the following season. His virtuoso performances led to inevitable links with bigger clubs and did not escape the attention of Spanish national coach Vicente del Bosque who called him up for Spain’s friendly against Chile in November 2008. Mata did not feature in that match but soon made his international debut in a World Cup qualifier against Turkey when he replaced David Villa. He was a member of Spain’s squad for the Confederations Cup in 2009 and was a World Cup winner last year inSouth Africa, although he only made one substitute appearance (vs Honduras).

Mata has carried his excellent form for Valencia in to the current season, playing a key role in the club’s attempts to cement third place in La Liga behind Barcelona and Real Madrid. He has also started to play a bigger part at international level and recently scored in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Lithuania.

Mata’s main attributes lie in his two-footedness, his eye for goal, composed finishing, pace and excellent decision making ability when on the ball. He continues to be linked with a host of big clubs on an almost daily basis and given Valencia’s precarious financial situation, it is surely only a matter of time until he leaves the Mestalla and if reports in the English press are to be believed, he may very well follow in the footsteps of former Valencia teammate David Silva and walk the petrodollar-lined path to the City of Manchester Stadium. Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona and even a return to Real Madrid have all been mentioned.

Fans of Mata and Valencia will have to wait to see what happens but with his ability, he will no doubt be a major influence wherever he goes and will play a key role for Spain as they look to remain at the top of the tree for years to come.

Juan Manuel Mata

Name: Juan Manuel Mata Garcia

Place of Birth: Burgos, Spain

Nationality: Spanish

Date of Birth: 28th April 1988

Career League Appearances: 123

Career League Goals: 32

Total Career Appearances: 168

Total Career Goals: 45

International Caps: 11

International Goals: 4

Key Attributes: skilful, two-footed, excellent dribbler, goal threat from wide

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Categories: Football
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