Benfica v Manchester United Betting Preview
Back Manchester United to maintain 100% Champions League record with win
Currently third in the Primeira Liga, Benfica have enjoyed a strong start to their domestic season. They’ve suffered only one defeat in eight league games, and have won another five. However their Champions League form has been anything but strong, with Rui Vitoria’s side losing both group games, including a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Basel last time out – a side who lost 3-0 to Manchester United prior to that.
It’s no doubt that Benfica are the underdogs heading into this tie, and their confidence would have been damaged by that devastating defeat, but the Portuguese side have scored in every home game this season, and in front of around 60,000 home fans, they can be a threat to any side on their own patch. Manchester United have only conceded four goals in 11 games in all competitions so far, so they’ll have to be at their best to find the net, but they’ll know a defeat will make it almost impossible for them to qualify for the last 16, so they’ll be determined to get a result.
Jose Mourinho’s men, on the other hand, have enjoyed an excellent start to the season in all competitions. United are currently second in the Premier League table with six wins and two draws and remain unbeaten. In fact, they haven’t lost any of their last 14 matches in all competitions and will prove a very tough opponent for Benfica tomorrow night. The performance shown in their 0-0 draw with Liverpool on Saturday was well below par, but Wednesday should be an easier task and Mourinho will be expecting a good result.
They’ve won both of their group games so far, scoring seven and conceding only one, and have looked extremely strong across all areas of the pitch. They’ll have to manage without Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick in midfield who are all ruled out through injury, but one thing United have this season that they haven’t had in recent years is strength in depth, and Mourinho will still be confident of coming away with a win. Their last defeat away from home came back in May when Tottenham beat them 2-1, and I think they’ll extent that unbeaten run tomorrow night.
The two sides drew both meetings when they met in the 2011/12 Champions League group stage, however Benfica have only managed to beat United once in nine attempts, coming back in 2005. United famously claimed their first European title back in 1968 with a 4-1 win over tomorrow’s opponents, and as they’re unbeaten in their last four meetings I think Mourinho’s men will prove hard to beat once more.
To score first – Marcus Rashford 11/2
The obvious choice would be Romelu Lukaku, who has scored 11 goals in as many games for United this season, including three in the Champions League. However the Belgian endured a frustrating performance against Liverpool at the weekend, and after only recently returning from a minor ankle injury Mourinho may well choose to rest him. That will give Marcus Rashford the chance to lead the line, and he proved he’s more than capable on the biggest European stage after netting against Basel last month. I’m backing Rashford to score first, priced at 11/2.
Both teams to score – Yes 10/11
Given Benfica’s goalscoring record at home this season I think United will struggle to keep them out for 90 minutes, despite looking defensively sound all season. United failed to find the net against Liverpool at the weekend but this is an easier task and given their record in the competition so far it seems almost certain they’ll score tomorrow night. Back odds of 10/11 for both teams to score.
Match odds – Manchester United 10/11
At almost evens, I think it’s difficult to oppose backing Manchester United in this one. They’ve won two from two in the competition so far, whereas Benfica have lost both and look vulnerable. It won’t be a walkover for Mourinho’s side but he will be expecting a good result. I recommend backing United to win at 10/11, however you can back odds of 13/5 for a draw or 7/2 for a Benfica win.
Writer’s Prediction: Benfica 1 – 2 Manchester United
*Odds correct at the time of publication, click here for all the latest odds on upcoming football matches.