It looks like Sir Alex Ferguson will be sending out a bit of a patch-work team on Wednesday night, with the manager keen to keep players fresh for the big match against Chelsea on Sunday. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic didn’t even travel to Portugal for the match, so it looks like it will be another night with the defence reliant on Jonny Evans and Phil Jones.
United have struggled away from home in Europe over the past few years, with Fergie seemingly intent on just collecting the odd point they need to guarantee qualification as long as they win all three home games (something they are very good at), which means its no real surprise that United are priced at 2.1 to win. (Victor Chandler)
Benfica have been very good at home – they managed to beat FC Twente 3-1 in the home leg of the Champions League Playoffs, and have a tendency to grind out results at home. Benfica are at practically full strength, with some recognisable faces in Pablo Aimar and Javier Saviola, whilst its tricky to choose the United XI that will start. De Gea, Smalling, Jones, Evans and Fabio will more than likely be lining up (Evra got a kick for his troubles on Saturday – probably from Kevin Davies!) Carrick and Giggs should start in the middle, with Young and Nani on the wings. You would expect Fergie to pair up Chicharito and Rooney after they linked up so well against Bolton, but don’t be surprised to see Chicharito or even Owen playing up-front alongside the forgotten forward, Dimitar Berbatov.
We’re betting on United to edge it 2-1 (9/1 at Paddy Power).
With us unsure on who will start up-front, we’d be foolish to put a goalscorer bet on. But with the makeshift look of the team, and the fact that we are facing our toughest opposition so far this season, we think that goals might be few and far between (we’re thinking about nights such as Valencia away and Milan away where we’ve come away with a scrappy point). With this in mind, we’re sticking money on there to be less than 2.5 goals in the game. A risky tactic with United, but worth it at just under 2/1.
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