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Match Preview: Manchester United v Benfica
A win for either side will secure progress to the UEFA Champions League knockout phase…

Match Preview – Manchester United v SL Benfica

Competition: Champions League
Kick-Off & Date: 7:45pm, Tuesday, 22nd November 2011
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester (Home)
Live TV Coverage: Sky Sports 1 (HD), 7pm – 10pm

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)
Assistant Referees: Bahattin Duran & Tarik Ongun
Additional Assistant Referees: Tolga Ozkalfa

Form: United are on a run of five consecutive wins, albeit three of those won by a margin of 1-0. The previous Premier League games were all won by that scoreline, while The Red Devils dismantled Otelul Galati 2-0 away and at home in the two past Champions League Group C fixtures. A win over SL Benfica will guarantee qualification to the next round of the European competition, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s men are hoping to maintain 1st position. 

Benfica have made a blistering start to the season, and United will be looking to inflict a first defeat of the season on the Portuguese side. Jorge Jesus’ side lie joint first at home, and the Lisbon outfit are expected to at least make it through to the Last 16 of the competition. A win at Old Trafford, which would claim a page in history, would see Benfica qualify for the next stage. However, I’m sure they’d settle for a draw…

The Injury Front: United are not expected to lose the invaluable services of Wayne Rooney, despite the 25-year-old striker missing training at the start of the week. Tuesday night will see Tom Cleverley and Michael Owen watching from the stands, as they will do until at least Christmas. However, Ashley Young is back along with Daniel Welbeck and Christopher Smalling, who are all coming back after long periods out injured. 

Squad: De Gea, Lindegaard, Rafael, Fabio, Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Smalling, Nani, Valencia, Gibson, Anderson, Carrick, Fletcher, Park, Giggs, Young, Welbeck, Rooney, Hernandez, Berbatov. 

Benfica do not have any major injury concerns for the midweek Champions League Group C clash at Old Trafford, and manager Jorge Jesus will be hoping to utilise his large squad to unsettle The Reds on home turf. Benfica held United to a 1-1 draw earlier in Lisbon, and only Enzo Perez (knee), Javier Saviola (knee) and Nemanja Matić (foot) should be missing for this tie. Javi Garcia is reported to have recovered from a dead leg, and is likely to feature.
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The Gaffer: Jorge Jesus says he has a plan to beat Manchester United… Not exactly a scary declaration when thousands of other managers have done the same, and almost all of them have failed. 57-year-old Portuguese, Jesus, will be praying to his father for a shock result at The Theatre Of Dreams…

Most-Feared: Nicolas Gaitan has been linked with a big-money move to Manchester following his impressive performance against United in Lisbon earlier this term. The 23-year-old attacking midfielder will cause a lot of problems for United’s defence, but would do the same for The Red Devils if the Argentinian was purchased !

The Ref: Cuneyt Cakir hails from Istanbul, Turkey and has reffed just five Champions League games before this. The 34-year-old celebrates his birthday on Wednesday, a day after probably the biggest match of his life. Cakir has been called ‘promising’, and has displayed good skills in the Europa League…

United Latest‘s Prediction: United 2-0 Benfica
Wayne Rooney on the double ?

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22/11/2011 2:00pm

United 3-1 Benfica Rooney 2, chicharito 1.

22/11/2011 4:04pm

Man u 3-0 Benfica triple Wazza.


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