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Juan Mata talks Wayne Rooney, United’s character and his love of pressure

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Spain midfielder Juan Mata was unveiled as Manchester United’s £37.1M record signing on Monday.

During the press conference Mata spoke on a number of issues, notably his eagerness to link up with Wayne Rooney.

“For me he’s one of the best players in the history of this country. He’s an unbelievable player,” Mata said.

“He’s a striker who can score, assist and come into midfield to take the ball. I will try to connect with him as much as possible and find the gaps in rival defenses. I think that’s my best style of play, to get into positions where I can assist the strikers.”

A midfielder who was deployed centrally and on the wings for Chelsea, Mata is expected to operate in the central attacking position at United. In the Red Devils’ typical 4-2-3-1 set up, Mata would play just inside Rooney but with Robin van Persie’s improvement in health (he may feature in tomorrow’s match against Cardiff City), David Moyes could roll out all three players in a 4-4-2 so long as Mata is paired with a suitable defensive player in the center of the park.

In addition to his admiration for Rooney, Mata also spoke of his attraction to United’s character and never-say-die attitude.

“What I like most about this club is the character,” said Mata. “I think if another club were in this position in the league, it would be very difficult to come back and take first position, but this club can do it.

“This is the real image I have from Manchester United, always fighting to win titles, always coming back from difficult moments.”

Mata also spoke of his fearlessness at United’s current predicament of being 7th in the league and needing a Top 4 finish.

“I love the pressure,” the 25-year-old said. “When people are suspecting big things from you then it’s a challenge but I am looking forward to being successful. This is a massive club. I’ve realised that since I came here and I’m really glad to be here. This is the club that has won the most trophies and it’s down to me to show people the football I have inside of me.”

Mata arrived at Old Trafford after a 2.5 year stint at Chelsea where he scored 32 goals and made more than 130 appearances, twice being named Chelsea’s player of the year. The Spaniard, who has chosen the No. 8 shirt, is scheduled to make his first appearance for United tomorrow at 2:45pm ET on NBC Live Extra.

Hilarious “Friends” spoof video ‘starring’ Messi, Ronaldo (video)

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Given the rivalry surrounding the two megawatt superstars plying their trade in Spain, you may be surprised to learn that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best of friends.

[ MORE: Top USMNT-Mexico rivalry moments ]

At least that’s what this spoof video conveys, as the Real Madrid and Barcelona stars help each other navigate tax season and toilet troubles.

Brilliant stuff, from FootbOle:

Top USMNT-Mexico moments: Looking back ahead of Saturday

PASADENA, CA - JUNE 25:  Landon Donovan #10 of United States celebrates his goal with teammates Carlos Bocanegra #3 and Alejandro Bedoya #22  against Mexico during the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Championship at the Rose Bowl on June 25, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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You could argue its the biggest match between the U.S. and Mexico outside of the 2002 World Cup’s Round of 16, and there would be few arguments against you.

The United States and Mexico will tangle on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, with the winner advancing to the 2017 Confederations Cup finals in Russia.

It’s only so often that these rivals match up in a “do or die” match. Sure World Cup qualifiers carry critical import, but they don’t always become the decisive moment in the qualifying cycle.

[ MORE: Spurs’ teen shining at center back for U.S. U-23s ]

Aside from the aforementioned World Cup match and the first match in the rivalry — see 1934 below — no other match has carried as much international weight as Saturday.

So with anticipation high, let’s dance backward in time to the Yanks’ best moments in the rivalry. And let’s also imagine what would have to happen to put Saturday in the mix.

(Of course, our apologies to Mexican fans. We aren’t including the times you slapped American soccer in the face).

2001, 2005, 2009, 2013 — “Dos a Cero” to the fourth power

There is no more celebrated score line in USMNT history than the 2-0 hurting it put on Mexico in four successive home World Cup qualifiers.

2002 — World Cup Round of 16

Goals from Brian McBride and Landon Donovan prodded an upset of the world’s then-No. 7 ranked nation, as the USMNT carried a feel of destiny through its best World Cup.

1934 — World Cup qualifier

Aldo Donnelli scored all four goals as the States won the first recorded match against Mexico, and it was a big one. The winner would go on to the 1934 tournament in Italy, while the loser would go on a tour of European friendlies. The States won, and wouldn’t win again until the qualifiers for the 1982 tournament.

2012 — First win at Azteca

It may’ve been a friendly, but Michael Orozco’s finish will go down as the Yanks’ first ever winner in the fortress of Mexico City.

1980 — World Cup qualifier

Though it meant little to the Yanks’ fate in the 1982 tournament — the U.S. finished last in a group with Mexico and Canada — it was the first win over El Tri in 46 years.