Manchester United will be looking to qualify for the knockout stages of Champions League for the first time since 2014 on Tuesday night when they host Benfica at Old Trafford.
Jose Mourinho’s men have so far recorded a 100% record in the competition thus far winning all three group games and boasting a huge goal difference to add.
United won the encounter at the Estádio da Luz thanks to a solitary and rather fortunate goal from forward Marcus Rashford; following a major goalkeeping howler from the 18 year old debutant Mile Svilar.
In what was resolute performance by United, the only other real piece of action was the late sending off of the vastly experienced Benfica centre back Luisao for a second bookable offence for a rather rash challenge on United youngster Scott McTominay which rules him out of the return game.
Anthony Martial who was the match winner on Saturday lunchtime against Tottenham will be almost certainly pushing for a start on Wednesday as his side near qualification. If selected, he is likely to be in a key battle with Spanish defender Alex Grimaldo and Eliseu who has been ever present in Benfica’s backline this season.
Benfica have had a dreadful start to their Champions League campaign having lost all three group thus far to CSKA Moscow, Basel and Manchester United respectively and face early elimination.
With three games to go in the group, they currently sit bottom with 0 points and have to realistically take something from their remaining games and hope other teams slip up.
The 2016-17 Portuguese double winners unquestionably possess plenty of experience at this level, having competed in the group stages in each of the last eight seasons and 13 times in total.
Domestically, they have been poor too; sitting third in the league behind Porto and Sporting although they are currently unbeaten in 4 league outings, winning the last three. Their main threat this season has been Brazilian striker Jonas; scoring 11 goals including 2 penalties.
After Benfica, the Red Devils travel to Chelsea on Sunday in the Premier League, Jose Mourinho is likely to include various changes to his starting line-up. Youngsters including Jesse Lingard, Victor Lindelof and Scott McTominay could come in for the hosts.
Eric Bailly came through unscathed in the recent defeat of Tottenham along with Marcus Rashford who completed 70 minutes on Saturday.
There is still no news on long term absentees Paul Pogba, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini however, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo are nearing returns but the duo are unlikely to play a part on Tuesday.
Benfica will be without the suspended Andre Almeida and Luisao, while Jardel is ruled out of action due to injury but have Jonas fully fit for the tie.
With United’s fantastic home record this season and broad attacking play, I can’t see anything other than a straight forward home win. Benfica will have to come out and attack from the offset if they are to continue playing in Europe’s best competition and will most likely come unstuck. If Benfica could snatch an early lead, it could make for an eventful Tuesday evening down at Old Trafford.
Prediction: Manchester United 2 Benfica 0