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Manchester United v Benfica Preview: A Tasty Home Win Awaits

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Manchester Untied play Benfica tonight at Old Trafford in our fifth Champions League group-stage game of the season, in what no doubt will be an exciting match of football.

Benfica, Portugal’s first European Champions are a great proud historic club and they’ve shown their quality in the competition so far. In the game at the Estadio da Luz between the two sides, Benfica probably shaded the game in terms of quality and but for some fine saves by Anders Lindegaard would have picked up the win.

Jorge Jesus has built an excellent team in Lisbon that has the right mix of talented young and experienced players. They will go into the game tonight looking to make another impression on the big-stage and gain their club’s first win at Old Trafford at the third attempt following defeats in 2005 and 2006.

After drawing their last game in the competition at home to Basel, Benfica will be looking to secure their passage through to the Last 16 of the competition tonight and can do so if they win the game. Football isn’t that simple though and Sir Alex Ferguson will know a slip-up tonight is not needed ahead of what looks like a tricky final group game for United away to Basel.

So what can we expect from tomorrow’s game. What will be the key battles on the pitch? 

Nemanja Vidic v Oscar Cardozo

United’s captain Nemanja Vidic is a player who loves to have a battle and tonight he will have one up against Benfica’s star striker Oscar Cardozo  who scored in the reverse fixture back in Portugal. Vidic is looking back to his best and needs a dominant performance tonight.

Cardozo will certainly be a tough person to keep out of the game due to his height and power up top. It’s vital he is kept quiet for as much of the game as possible as he’s got the quality to shoot from anywhere and he can bring others into play with his hold-up play.

Michael Carrick v Pablor Aimar

It would be fair to say, judging on just how talented he was as a youngster that Pablo Amiar has nott quite grown into the type of player both in Europe and for his country Argentina that he was expected to have done. Sadly injuries have ruined his career and his spot-light has fallen.

He is still a player who can shine on the big-occasion and has become very popular with Benfica’s fans. It’s fair to say that judging by his form, Michael Carrick’s best days are behind him but with his experience he should be able to track Aimar and keep him quiet.

Wayne Rooney v Luisão

Brazilian defenders have a reputation for not bothering with defending and just wanting to attack. Luisão, Benfica’s giant skipper is an exception to that reputation who just loves to defend, putting his body on the line, leading his team by example at the back.

Despite scoring 11 goals this season in 15 games, Wayne Rooney has been quite quiet recently in front of goal with many pundits worried about his performance levels. He will have to be at his best tonight to get the better of Benfica’s captain who will not be intimidated by him.

In terms of a prediction for the game tomorrow, as I stated earlier on in a predictions article, I believe whilst this is going to be a tough game for United, I believe they will beat Benfica 3-1 which will seal their progress through to the Last 16 of the competition.

Benfica will catch the eye though and I do fancy their big striker Cardozo to get on the score-sheet. As for who will score for United, Nani will want to impress against his old club Sporting’s rivals and I can see him playing a hand in two of United’s goals.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87