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Benfica – Manchester United (Champions League)

Still to win the first point in the competition, Benfica are now forced to play against group favorites Manchester United, with the match to be held at Estadio da Luz this Wednesday night, for the 3rd round of Group A of the Champions League. The Portuguese giants are falling behind expectations this season and have only won two of their last seven matches in all competitions. Manchester United, on their turn, are yet to taste defeat this season and have won nine of their last eleven competitive matches, with Jose Mourinho rotating his squad in the last round of the Premier League, arriving here with full strength.

Benfica are at the bottom of this Group A with zero points, results of two defeats, with 1 goal scored and 7 conceded. Benfica’s lack of success this season is due to the fact that the club saw some very influential players leaving in the summer transfer window, with the Lisbon club failing to replacing them properly. In the Portuguese league, despite the Eagles occupying the 3rd place in the league table, the club already have a 5 point gap between them and the 1st place, and have been playing a very little appealing football, with several gaps at the back and with little creativity and solutions from midfield to attack. Rui Vitoria’s men arrive here with only two victories in their last seven competitive matches, with one of these victories being in their last round against Olhanense, from the 3rd tier of Portuguese football, where the Portuguese coach rested some of his regular starters.

The Champions League is where Benfica has been more disappointing, losing at home to CSKA Moscow and ending up trashed in Switzerland, at the hands of FC Basel by 5-0. Benfica would have been earmarked as Manchester United’s hardest match before the group stages, but that seems to be no longer true. Taking into account the enemy force, the Eagles need to be more organized than ever in the defensive sector, not only is it necessary to prevent Lukaku from having space inside the penalty box, but also is it important to pay close attention to Mata, Rashford and Mkhitaryan. Offensively, Benfica is dangerous in attacking down the wings, and have been creating a few scoring chances through long shots and set-pieces.

In their last 5 official games, Benfica has a record of 2 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. This sequence of results began with a 1-1 draw against SC Braga, for the League Cup. This result was followed by a 2-0 win over Paços Ferreira, a 5-0 defeat against FC Basel, for the Champions League, a 1-1 draw against Maritimo, and in their last match, a 0-1 victory against Olhanense, for the Portuguese Cup. André Almeida is out due to suspension.

Probable Lineup: Varela – Pereira, Luisão, Jardel and Grimaldo – Fesja, Pizzi, Salvio and Cervi – Jonas and Jiménez.

champions leagueManchester United, on their turn, are the group leaders of Group A with 6 points, result of 2 victories, with 7 goals scored and 1 goal conceded. Unlike their opponents, Manchester United have been in a fantastic form this season, arriving here without having tasted defeat since the start of national and internacional competitions, they comfortably beat FC Basel and CSKA Moscow, and only failed to win 2 out of 8 Premier League games, drawing against Stoke City and Liverpool. In their last round, José Mourinho chose to rest Juan Mata, Rashford and Lingard, already with this match in mind. The Portuguese coach is a tactical genius and always know what to do in each game, he sees in Benfica a dangerous team and will want to arrive here at full strength in order to get the three points and to be more secure at the top of Group A.

The Red Devils are very well organized defensively, they have only 2 goals conceded in 8 Premier League games, and conceded only 1 goal in the 2 matches played in Group A. Offensively, the Manchester side show quality in set-pieces, they are strong in attacking down the wings and can easily create chances through individual skill, with Rashford, Mata, Martial and Mkhitaryan all quite talented and capable of unbalancing any defense. Lukaku is their offensive reference, he is the Premier League top scorer with 7 goals scored. Still, the Red Devils are noted for their lethality in counter-attacks, being hugely strong in fast and vertical transitions.

In their last 5 official games, Manchester United has a record of 4 victories and 1 draw. This sequence of results began with 4-1 victory over Burton Albion, for the League Cup. This result was followed by a 0-1 victory against Southampton, a 1-4 victory against CSKA Moscow, for the Champions League, a 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace, and in their last match, a 0-0 draw against Liverpool. Paul Pogba. Ibrahimovic, Fellaini and Carrick are all out due to injury.

Probable Lineup : Gea – Young, Lindelof, Smalling and Blind – Matic and Herrera – Mata, Mkhitaryan and Rashford – Lukaku.

Both teams have faced each other a few times in recent years, with Benfica winning only 1 of the last 6 direct clashes, drawing 2 and losing the remaining 3.

Manchester United
2-2
Benfica
Champions League 2011/12
Benfica
1-1
Manchester United
Champions League 2011/12
Manchester United
3-1
Benfica
Champions League 2006/07
Benfica
0-1
Manchester United
Champions League 2006/07
Benfica
2-1
Manchester United
Champions League 2005/06
Manchester United
2-1
Benfica
Champions League 2005/06

Benfica need a win here, or they can be completely left out of the race for the qualifying places for the round of 16. Given that the Eagles have to take the initiative of the game and look to score, at least, a goal, it becomes a perfect situation for the Red Devils to explore the space left on the opponent’s back and to counter-attack.

Betting Preview Odd Bookmaker Success
Manchester United to Win 1.83 Bet365
benfica
Benfica
  • Country: Portugal
  • Stadium: Estádio da Luz
  • City: Lisboa
  • Establishment: 1904

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manchesterunited
Manchester United
  • Country: England
  • Stadium: Old Trafford
  • City: Manchester
  • Establishment: 1878

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Fábio Mota
  • Predictions made 174
  • Average Odds used 1.76
  • Predictions right 99
  • Predictions wrong 65
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