Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 5/6
Benfica will have a lot to prove in their third group fixture after the embarrassing 5-0 loss to FC Basel last time out, and this will feel like their final chance to keep their qualifying hopes alive. Man Utd, on the other hand, will be looking to all but secure a place in the knockout stages with third straight triumph.
Following several difficult years spent in the shade of their arch rivals FC Porto, Benfica finally managed to return to the right track, lifting four consecutive Primeira Liga trophies. The Eagles also enjoyed some success in Europe, reaching the Champions League quarter-finals in the 2015/2016 campaign, while they were stopped in the last 16 stage last time out. While the current season got off to a good start, Benfica began to struggle as soon as the busy schedule kicked in, suffering three defeats in five games, with losses to CSKA Moscow and FC Basel seriously damaging their hopes of reaching the UCL knockout stages three times in a row. The 1-1 draw with Maritimo and narrow win over Olhanense that ensued are enough to suggest that Rui Vitoria’s side are still far from the desired form, and it remains to be seen whether they can show any sort of improvement in what is a must-win game against Manchester United. With two wins (Dynamo Kiev, Borussia Dortmund) and two defeats (Napoli, CSKA Moscow) in last four CL fixtures at home, it is anybody’s guess how the Eagles will fare on Wednesday evening.
With first choice goalkeeper Julio Cesar unlikely to play due to back problems, youngster Mile Svilar could become the youngster ever goalkeeper to feature in a Champions League fixture. Andre Almeida is banned.
This is proving to be quite a successful season for Manchester United, as last year’s Europa League triumph appears to have served as a much-needed boost for everyone at the club. The Red Devils have excelled in Jose Mourinho’s second season in charge, climbing to the Premier League summit, after seven games, although weekend’s draw with Liverpool saw them slip to second in the standings. The Portuguese manager was heavily criticised for his park-the-bus approach that saw the Reds largely dominate the game and his side were very fortunate not to lose at Anfield. However, the point could prove important in the grand scheme of things and that is precisely what Mourinho had on his mind. Meanwhile, Man Utd are in a very good position after two group stage games in the Champions League having eased off to victories over CSKA Moscow and FC Basel, and they will now be looking to pile more misery on out-of-sorts Benfica. And while the Red Devils did not impress on UCL travels in the past, losing four of last seven, they did hammer CSKA Moscow 4-1 last time out.
The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick all continue to miss out.
Key Factors to Consider
- Both teams scored in their last three meetings
- Man Utd won two of last four matches vs Benfica (D2)
- Benfica conceded at least two goals in five of last six European fixtures
- The Eagles lost last three UCL fixtures, conceding 11 goals
- Man Utd unbeaten in last five away games (W3 D2)
Benfica are going through a rough patch at the moment and they will be under pressure after losing first two group fixtures. Man Utd, on the other hand, are brimming with confidence following the bright start to the season and we expect them to win at Estadio da Luz.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 5/6
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