Low scoring affair could 'Benefica' United
Manchester United v Benfica.
19:45 - live on Sky Sports 4
A win at Old Trafford for Benfica would take the Portuguese through to the knock-out stages as Group C winners and leave Sir Alex Ferguson's men with a must win tie away in Switzerland against FC Basel. However Benfica coach, Jorge Jesus, will be aware of the task ahead what with Manchester United's two-year and ten-match unbeaten competition record at their home ground.
Sir Alex was impressed with United's concentration on the weekend when his side completed at 1-0 win away at Swansea. Javier Hernandez (10/11 anytime) struck early and United look unlikely to concede for the rest of the game. The three points ensured that they clung onto their noisy neighbours at the top of the league and with Chelsea stuttering at home to Liverpool the league is fast turning into a bit of a two horse race.
With both these sides unbeaten in group C and locked together on eight points, the latest fitness concerns over Wayne Rooney (3/1 last goal scorer)and Jonny Evans (12/1 anytime) will be a concern to Ferguson. Both missed training on Monday and Sir Alex may be forced to make some compromises on a big night for the Champions. On a positive note Danny Welbeck (4/1 first scorer) and Chris Smalling should return after being sidelined through injury on the weekend.
The form guide for the Red Devils couldn't be better, since that forgettable game against City, they have won five straight games in all competitions and more importantly not conceded a single goal. Vidic's return has coincided with that achievement and balance has been returned to a somewhat disjointed and naive Manchester team that played earlier in the season.
At Old Trafford Manchester United have a record in their last ten games that reads W8 D2 L0 against Portuguese sides, however Benfica are not expected to be overwhelmed by past stats. They will concentrate on the problems that they caused Sir Alex Ferguson's side in Lisbon in the reverse fixture where a stunning Ryan Giggs goal got the English Champions out of trouble earning them a 1-1 draw (15/2 correct score). Paraguayan international Oscar Cardoza (8/1 first scorer) found the net that night and relishes playing against English opposition. He scored six goals in four games against English sides in 09/10 during Benfica's Europa League campaign.
Much talk has been centered around the attacking flair of players like Cardoza (11/4 anytime), Saviola (9/1 first scorer) and Aimar (5/1 anytime) however Benfica's success has been built on their defensive strength. They have only conceded two goals in this year's Champions League and sit joint top of the Portuguese Liga thanks again to only conceding a miserly ten goals. With this in mind expect a low scoring affair at Old Trafford, Manchester United will undoubtedly press, however they will do so with caution. They will not want to be caught on the break, and both sides will not want to lose the tie.
With this in mind the top bets for this game are as follows:
Under 2.5 goals @ 21/20
Manchester United 1-0 @ 13/2
Draw 0-0 @ 11/1
Javier Fernandez first goalscorer @ 7/2
In addition to this William Hill are also offering a special Match Winner Offer. Manchester City are playing away at Napoli also at 7:45pm, if they along with Manchester United win their games by two or more goals you will get a return of 8/1 on your money. This price has of course been enhanced from a previous price of 13/2. City should achieve this comfortably and if United grab an early goal there could be some value to be had on this one.