Match day three in the Champions League is upon us this week, and United hosts Portuguese side S.C. Braga on Tuesday night.
With the reds failing to impress in last year’s competition, the manager is ensuring that the same mistakes aren’t happening again this term. United currently sit at the top of Group H, having beaten Galatasaray and Cluj in match days one and two respectively. A third win would see us hit nine points, and on the verge of qualification for the knock out stages.
Sir Alex has utilised his squad again so far in this competition, but maybe a little bit more wisely than in 2011/12. A very narrow United unit took to the field against Cluj, in a game that saw Anderson, Fletcher and Cleverley take three midfield spots, and Hernandez, Rooney and Van Persie lining up as the front men. With Anderson coming off the bench against Stoke City at the weekend, and Darren Fletcher also starting to get back in to the swing of first team football, the three man midfield may be a tactic that the manager decides to employ again.
With tough and important games coming up in the next few weeks – Chelsea twice and Arsenal – it might make sense to keep the squad fresh with a couple of subtle changes. After all, two international games last week will also be taking its toll on the players.
If Sir Alex decides to stick with the 4-4-2 formation on home soil, Ashley Young is available again, and Ryan Giggs could feature in central midfield.
Injuries to Phil Jones, Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling continue to rule them out.
Braga fly in to Manchester holding third spot in the group, beating Galatasaray in Turkey on matchday two, and losing 2-0 at home to Cluj on the 19th September.
They visit us in a rich vein of form, unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions, winning four and drawing the other. They lie third in the Portuguese league behind leaders FC Porto and second placed SL Benfica.
Men to watch:
Braga have a couple of players who will pose a threat to the reds on Tuesday night. Many fans will remember former Newcastle United midfielder Hugo Viana, who is their most experienced player in Europe. He’s clocked up 20 Champions League appearances, and 69 in other UEFA competitions. Braga will rely heavily on the 29 year old to keep the United midfield at bay.
Upfront, Eder has scored four goals in four appearances this season for the 2011 Europa League runners up, and will be looking to open his Champions League tally at Old Trafford. At 6ft 2ins, the front man may prove a handful for a United defence who’ve conceded in eight competitive games already this term.
Serbian referee Milorad Mazic will be in charge on Tuesday night, in what will be his second UEFA Champions League game.
Widely respected as one of Serbia’s finest officials, he has 36 UEFA matches under his belt, and has been an international referee since 2009. In that year he also took charge of the Serbian Cup Final.
Place your bets:
How about a cheeky flutter on the game? Here are a few markets to go for…odds from bet365.com
- United to win 3-1 – 8/1
- Draw at half time, United to win the game – 11/4
- Johnny Evans to score first in a 2-1 win – 110/1
- Wayne Rooney to score first between 21st and 45th minute – 12/1
In United’s 101st Champions League game, they go in to the match with the momentum of winning their last three games on the bounce, and with home advantage against a team they’ve never come up against, they’ll be looking to make it four in a row.
Wherever you’re watching it, enjoy the game.
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