Premier League title contenders will be looking to extend their perfect Champions League record as they travel to Portugal to face out-of-sorts Benfica at the Estadio da Luz.
Rui Vitoria’s men have lost only one of their opening eight matches in the Liga Nos which puts them in third spot behind Sporting and leaders Porto. The reigning champions cannot be satisfied with the start of the new season, however, as it proved to be far too inconsistent. It was in August when Benfica last managed to notch two – or more – consecutive wins where their start to the European campaign has been utterly disappointing. The Portuguese Eagles have lost both of their Champions League group stage matches. The 2-1 home defeat at the hands of CSKA Moscow was followed by a disappointing 5-0 drubbing in Basel and Benfica now find themselves at the rock-bottom of Group A. Getting back to winning ways and improving their chances of making it into the next round of the competition is not getting any easier knowing Benfica face in-form Manchester United. The Forthcoming clash against the Red Devils could be interpreted as the ultimate test of quality and mentality of Rui Vitoria’s men who sit on the brink of big disappointment early in the season.
The 28-year-old defender Lisandro Lopez is one of the two unavailable players for the upcoming match as the Argentine is still recovering from illness. Meanwhile, right-back Andrea Almeida is suspended for the occasion.
Manchester United on the run
Jose Mourinho’s men have extended the unbeaten record in all competitions this season with a hard-fought draw at Anfield on Saturday. The Reds might not have been in top form against their fierce rivals Liverpool but they have still managed to go eight games without defeat in the league. Having won their previous two Champions League outings, Jose Mourinho’s men are fully confident on grabbing the third win that would help them take an even firmer grip on the leading position in Group A. three points at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz would all but secure a place in the knockouts for the Red Devils. Trip to Lisbon will mark an emotional occasion for Jose Mourinho, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof who managed and played at Benfica before. The Manchester United trio have fond memories of their time in Portugal but will also provide a valuable insight into Benfica’s style of play and language, which could prove quite significant on the pitch itself. Red Devils are faced with a number of first-team injuries and will face a proper challenge in Lisbon.
Eric Bailly has picked up a knock and will be unavailable for the game, whereas Michael Carrick, Marouane Felaini and Paul Pogba add to the midfielder mess Mourinho is faced with. Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues his recovery whereas Luke Shaw is ready to run out if given a nod from the manager.
Previous meetings between Benfica and Manchester United proved to be eventful affairs. Last two matches ended in draw, whereas Benfica only managed a single win over Red Devils – in 2005. We do expect to see a closely-contested match and another reserved performance from the English team.
Top pick: Draw 11/4 (3.75) @Bet365
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score – No 1/1 (2.00) @BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Under 2.5 goals 9/10 (1.90) @Betfair