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Manchester United Fixtures

United Visit Benfica In Champions League Opener

Cue the Heineken commercials, the unmistakable anthem, and the goosebumps – the Champions League is here again. To be Manchester United is to be a perennial favorite in the competition, and that’s no different this season, as United eye a fourth final in five seasons. And the first stop on the journey to next May’s final at Munich’s Allianz Arena is Lisbon, where United will do battle with Benfica.

United and Benfica are the undisputed favorites to advance from a Group C that also includes Swiss side Basel and Romanian debutants Otelul Galati, so tonight’s showdown at the Estadio da Luz represents a chance for someone to gain an early edge for top spot in the group, which (usually) means a fairly favorable round of 16 tie.

RECENT HISTORY

United and Benfica go back, way back. The most famous encounter between the two came in the 1968 European Cup final at Wembley, with United triumphing 4-1 in extra time to become European champions for the first time.

More recently though, United and Benfica were paired together in the group stage in consecutive seasons in 2005/06 and 2006/07. In 2005, United lost 2-1 in Lisbon and won 2-1 at home, and the next year, United took the three points in both meetings, winning 1-0 away and 3-1 at home.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Benfica

As a reward for finishing a distant second behind Porto last season, Benfica started their European campaign while United were still in the U.S. A 3-1 aggregate win over Trabzonspor earned them a playoff round tie against FC Twente, and following a solid 2-2 away draw in the first leg, Benfica won 3-1 at home to book their place on the 32-seat bus.

After opening their league campaign with a draw at Gil Vicente, Benfica have won three on the trot, and they find themselves in second after four matches, two points behind untied and unbeaten Porto.

Benfica lost one of their best players during the summer, as they sold highly-rated left back Fabio Coentrao to Real Madrid for 30m. However, a number of additions were made that look to be paying early dividends for Jorge Jesus’ side. They landed a couple of known names in Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel, Argentine defender Ezequiel Garay, and Spanish defender Joan Capdevila, but a lesser-known acquisition has made the biggest impact. Spanish attacker Nolito was snapped up on a free after being unable to make a real breakthrough at Barcelona, and he’s instantly proved to be quite the bargain, scoring three goals in Champions League qualifying and two more in the league.

Along with Nolito, United’s defense will have to contend with prolific Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo and Argentine attacking midfielder Nicolas Gaitan, who was linked with United during the summer transfer window.

Manchester United

With one eye on Sunday’s clash with Chelsea, we’re sure to see a little tinkering tonight by Fergie, but we’ll see a strong starting XI nonetheless.

Rio Ferdinand was left at home, which means he’s a shoo-in to start at Old Trafford on Sunday, and Nemanja Vidic is still absent, so the back line will be a youthful one again, perhaps with the exception of Patrice Evra.

Tom Cleverley won’t be available after his ankle was the victim of a poor challenge by Bolton’s Kevin Davies, so he’ll have to wait until next month for his European debut. But in his absence, United can turn to experience in the center of midfield, whether it’s Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, or Darren Fletcher, who are all due for a start. On the flanks, the duo of Ashley Young and Nani could well be rested, as Park and Antonio Valencia could be in contention to get their first starts of the season.

Up front, Wayne Rooney is due for a rest, which could free up a place for Dimitar Berbatov to finally get a good run-out after spending all of a half-hour on the pitch thus far this season.

PREDICTION

Caution is usually the way to go in away matches in Europe, but will we see Fergie go that same route or make the most of the fine attacking form that the side is in right now?

Given that Benfica have their share of attacking talent, it’d be far more entertaining for the masses to see a wide-open game, but results, not entertainment is the name of the game, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see an approach that is more about defensive tightness and offensive opportunism than being relentless and overpowering in attack like United have been thus far.

But when you’re having the kind of run United have been, there’s no harm in going with what’s been working, and even with several changes, United still have the quality to be very dangerous in attack. And with that in mind, they should attempt to – and will – take advantage of a Benfica defense that has produced only two clean sheets in nine competitive matches this season.

Score Prediction: Benfica 1-2 Manchester United

113 Comments

113 Comments

  1. Craig Mc

    14 September 2011 at 21:45

    Lindigaard is more assured, PASSIONATE and cares far more than De Gea, and he did nothing wrong, even though skinned sausages Evra and Fabio were at their skinned sausage best. Evans wasn’t far behind either.

  2. RedDevilEddy

    14 September 2011 at 21:45

    GAME OF THE SEASON!! :mrgreen: Sparks flying everywhere, non-stop action, end-to-end stuff. Carrick man of the match by a mile or so, why can’t he be this good every game?! Quality play by United, loved the goal. Probably goal of the season I reckon. Unlucky we didn’t score on our other 10+ chances, never seen us this wasteful. Evra needs to pick it up a notch with his finishing, his overhead kick from 30 yards which rattled the crossbar is far from good enough. Those have to go in! Brilliant play, you won’t see a better game anywhere else! ๐Ÿ˜€ More of the same, please!

    • Craig Mc

      14 September 2011 at 21:47

      Eddi fookin sober up mate, and get off the smokes lol!

  3. Craig Mc

    14 September 2011 at 21:46

    Evra you are not a fookin left winger – so quit will ya?

    • tonymontanna4united

      14 September 2011 at 21:49

      Park as well, can we stop playing him out on the fucking wing. He constantly moves inside all over the pitch and away from the side hes supposed to be on, never coming back in, thus leaving us 2 on 1 with evra, which is scary enough at the best of times.

  4. colver

    14 September 2011 at 21:47

    Well we got a vital away point. Pretty embarassing to be completely outplayed. Benfica were going through our midfield like knife through butter and we were so vulnerable on the counter. It kinda reminded me of that embarassing defeat to Liverpool last season.

    We may think it does not matter and all will be right again when Anderson and Cleverley are playing. But later in the season when we have two games a week and they are all must-win games how will we manage?

    • tonymontanna4united

      14 September 2011 at 21:55

      Agree 100%, a decent point, shite performance. Its all too clear how important clevs and ando are to this team (giggs to a lesser extent aswell). Carrick though im fucking sick and tired of, and fletcher, awful as he was, can atleast use the fact hes just returned from a 6 month lay off as an excuse. Really needs to get back to his 08/09 best though if hes to return as an important player for us. Just shows really how badly we could have done with another midfielder imo. Not sneijder though as far as im concerned, but regardless of what anyone wants to think about him, i think rodwell would have been a great signing for us.

  5. RedDevilEddy

    14 September 2011 at 21:58

    Craig I love your tits

    • Craig Mc

      14 September 2011 at 22:05

      Eddi you are definately not sober mate – you are higher than a fookin soaring eagle – hos’s you illness by the way? You feeling better? Hope so mate! ๐Ÿ˜€

      • RedDevilEddy

        14 September 2011 at 22:08

        My chicken said Gigidy ! ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜†

  6. RedDevilEddy

    14 September 2011 at 21:59

    Grog mate, I love you like a fat man loves cake! BROTHALOVE DUUUDE! <3

  7. RedDevilEddy

    14 September 2011 at 22:00

    Opti , grabban! Skulle wish at more folk were som you. Du are sรฅ fucking kul! Love deg bro! Stay in schoooooooooooooooooooooooooeeele

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      15 September 2011 at 04:54

      love you too!!!

  8. RedDevilEddy

    14 September 2011 at 22:03

    How many chickes crossed the road?

    Because the tomato said “Come on ketchup!” ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜†

  9. RedDevilEddy

    14 September 2011 at 22:05

    I love you all like the cheesecakes you are

  10. RedDevilEddy

    14 September 2011 at 22:15

    Did you guys know that my foot just game me a backrub?

    Well did you?

  11. RedDevilEddy

    14 September 2011 at 22:32

    MY DICK JUST TOUCHED MY ASSHOLE!! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ Is that normal??!!?

    • Moscow is my heaven

      14 September 2011 at 22:44

      ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜†

      • RedDevilEddy

        14 September 2011 at 22:55

        What are you laughing at Moscow?! You’re russian, you’re a vodka! Vodka’s don’t talk! You are being drunk!! Hahhaha , you know how I know that? Because John Fucking Terry told me. THAAAAAAAAAAAAAT’S RIGHT! That sorry old bastard told me Russian Vodka was the best, apparantley it was so good he slipped once!

        • Nuevo

          15 September 2011 at 04:41

          ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜†
          In that case I am sure Anelka must ve told you something abt russia…dying to hear it mate…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • RedDevilEddy

          15 September 2011 at 09:09

          Anelka looks like a fucking peanut dude, how can you possibly relate him to anything in Russia?

          In Russia, Anelka doesn’t get his penalty saved, the penalty saves us from Anelka

    • Johnsom33

      14 September 2011 at 23:36

      ?? I’m crying right now. Thats hilarious.

  12. colver

    15 September 2011 at 00:49

    I have my doubts about Fletcher. OK he is just back from injury. But last season he was pants. He had one period in his career where he was producing MOM performances against all the good Premiership teams. But the rest of the time he has always been pretty mediocre.

    He should not be playing in Europe where ball possession is so important because the guy can’t pass, is clueless on the ball and in the modern game a purely destructive midfielder isn’t really that useful. Hargreaves could do all that but he could also pass, was really intelligent, almost European on the ball etc.

    If Anderson and Cleverley keep up their early season form we may just be able to get away without buying an attacking midfielder even when Giggs retires. But I think we are going to have to buy a Hargreaves replacement and the sooner the better.

    • Nuevo

      15 September 2011 at 04:53

      While i agree to all that you said. I beleive the fergie’s decided not to buy another CM as we are pretty hopeful of the academy talent being good enough. I think the thinking is that Pogba will start getting more 1st team action by January and take over the load from Ando/TC. This allied with the rest of the MF tonight(Carrick/Giggs/Fletch) should be good enough for this season.
      By next year we should be ready with better and more settled MF else we will know for sure who’s required and who is not … at this point we will buy…if need be.

      And we are not looking to Dethrone Barca this season…just hold onto the PL and go as far as possible in CL.

    • Grognard

      15 September 2011 at 08:17

      Pogba mate. The reason we haven’t already bought one is because he is the next Vieira. I just hope Fergie plans on using him one day soon.

      • Nuevo

        15 September 2011 at 11:33

        In fergie i trust…never again shall i doubt him ever…all’s well when fergie’s there…

  13. Grognard

    15 September 2011 at 08:15

    Well I guess I called that one perfectly. I said it would be 1-1 and I expected a dull affair where we would play oldies who would slow us down to a sloths pace. Well done Fergie.

  14. ash is the man

    15 September 2011 at 08:18

    why did pay 20million for MILKY BAR KID da gea when we already had a gem in lindegaard??????????? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      15 September 2011 at 16:41

      because Lindegaard is 28 and unproven and Roy Carroll took his spot on danish Superliga team OB (Odense)… how embarrassing. He had to flee to Norway (no offense, my friend Eddy) to play footy.

  15. RedDevilEddy

    15 September 2011 at 09:10

    Hope you guys enjoy my random outburts of comedy last night, felt this place needed some chipping up after a boring and depressing 1-1 draw… I know you all love my randomness.

    I’d fuck a pengiun for you guys, remember that

    • Craig Mc

      15 September 2011 at 10:29

      The only thing your random outbursts did Eddi mi man, was cause everybody to desert this place!

      • RedDevilEddy

        15 September 2011 at 10:39

        Aah, that’s alright. I bet at least 10 of you guys cracked a smile! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m still sick though mate, thanks for asking. Haven’t left my home for a week now, don’t know what the fuck I’ve got but it certainly ain’t chill… Bored to sickness on here ๐Ÿ™

        • [OPTI]Madschester United

          15 September 2011 at 16:42

          Fletcheritis?

        • RedDevilEddy

          15 September 2011 at 16:54

          May be….

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