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Preview: Injuries mount ahead of Benfica visit but Mourinho is confident of progressing from the group

SL Benfica -v- Manchester United

UEFA Champions League 2017/18

Estádio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal

Wednesday 18th October 2017; KO 19:45 BST

Live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom

Manchester United have travelled to Lisbon, Portugal for their third UEFA Champions League group stage match this season. Jose Mourinho’s team have beaten both FC Basel and CSKA Moscow so far this season, earning six points out of six in the elite European competition. United will face the Portuguese side twice before the end of the month, taking on Huddersfield Town, Swansea City, and Tottenham Hotspur between the two matches. Mourinho’s side are fresh from their 0-0 draw in the Premier League against Liverpool on Saturday, which saw a frustrating United side take on their bitter rivals – Liverpool being the better side from that match, despite doing nothing to really pressure United into submission with David De Gea doing what he needed to do to ensure United kept a clean sheet.

This is an important match for United, despite the fact the Portuguese side have not won a match in the Champions League this season, their form does not matter, which is something Mourinho stated during his press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Since the 0-0 draw with Liverpool on Saturday, United have dominated in the media and social media – what a surprise! Chelsea were beaten by the worst team in the Premier League at the weekend and United are the team to talk about. This tells me that United sell newspapers and attract readers to a website. Hated, adored, never ignored. Then came the reports Mourinho was going to leave the club because he spoke about Paris Saint-Germain – the manager clarifying that he is not (yet) signing a new contract at United and is also not leaving for PSG. Mourinho, speaking in his press conference and reported by the official Manchester United website, said:

“I think you English media have the answer for that because, in one day, it says that I am going to sign a five-year contract, for £1billion per season and then, the next day, you say that I am leaving and going to Paris Saint-Germain. I think that is the answer.

“The answer is that nothing is happening. I am not signing a new five-year contract and I am not leaving for PSG. I am at Manchester United and I have a contract. And that is it.

“The only thing that I told is true and there was not a misinterpretation of my words was I am not going to end my career at Manchester United.

“I was asked how is it possible in modern football that any manager is going to last 15 to 20 years in the same club. I think Arsene Wenger is the last one at Arsenal. I think it is impossible for us with everything that surrounds the job, all of the pressures that surround the job.

“I think it is impossible to last for so long. If, in this moment, I wanted to finish my career in two, three, four or five years then I would say yes, I want to finish my career with Manchester United.

“But I think I am going to be a manager for 15 more years, minimum, in the job, and I think it is impossible to stay for 17 years in the same club. I think it is the impossible mission. Even if you want to, you can try, but I think it is impossible. Wenger is the last one. That was my answer. I don’t think I am going to end my career at Manchester United. That was my answer.

“After that, some people tried to be clever, some people tried to be malicious and they said many different things. But the reality is simple. I did not sign a new contract but I am not thinking about leaving.”

Previous Matches: Manchester United have been beaten just once by Benfica in more than 51 years since the first encounter

Manchester United and Benfica have faced each other nine times since the first encounter between the two sides on the 2nd February 1966, the year England won the World Cup. United have won six times, lost just once and drawn twice – the most recent matches between the two sides. It was six years ago when United last played Benfica, in the group stages of the Champions League, drawing 1-1 in Lisbon and also drawing 2-2 at Old Trafford. The only defeat came in 2005, United losing 2-1 in the final group stage match in the Champions League that season, Paul Scholes scoring in the sixth minute and both Geovanni and Gilberto Beto scoring the goals for the Portuguese side. United will be seeking a win in Lisbon again on Wednesday evening, taking their points tally to nine from three matches, seemingly aiming to do the business in the group by the end of the month, aiming to defeat Benfica at Old Trafford.

Form: United and Benfica share similar starts in the league this season but in Europa, Benfica are winless in two matches

Manchester United have started the season in fine fettle, taking on Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, just two points behind the league leaders and noisy neighbours. United sit three points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, their opposition in a week and a half at Old Trafford. United are unbeaten in the three competitions they have played in this season, winning all but two matches, both draws, dropping four points in the league this season, conceding only two goals in eight matches, both at Stoke City. Jose Mourinho will be confident of his sides displays in the Champions League this season, especially with Benfica losing both group stage matches this season. Benfica has started similar to United this season, playing eight matches in the Portuguese league, winning all but three, two draws and a defeat. The Portuguese giants sit in third place, five points behind Mourinho’s former side, FC Porto. In the Champions League, Benfica are yet to earn a single point, losing 201 to CSKA Moscow in the opening match, then devastated in a 5-0 defeat to Basel – United have beaten both teams to have beaten the Portuguese side.

Team News: Injuries restricting Jose Mourinho’s side currently, but the future is bright with long-term injuries coming to an end

Jose Mourinho has a few problems with injury to deal with ahead of the match against Benfica with Eric Bailly returning from international duty with the Ivory Coast with an injury, missing the 0-0 draw with Liverpool at the weekend, something which could keep him out of action for the foreseeable future. Marcos Rojo travelled to Lisbon with United, which is a boost to the squad by the manager confirmed that the Argentinian who suffered a knee injury in the Europa League back in April was just training with his teammates ahead of his return, which could be within the next two weeks. Mourinho, speaking to the official Manchester United website during his pre-match press conference, said:

“Rojo is not coming to play but he is coming with the team to train today with the group. Tomorrow, individually, but he’s coming [back].

“I would say, probably in two weeks, Marcos is ready to play. There is no Bailly – he was injured in the national team.”

Predicted Starting XI: Mourinho to field a strong side to earn the points in the Champions League ahead of Huddersfield Town encounter at the weekend

Match Prediction: Manchester United to romp to victory in Lisbon!

Benfica 1-2 Manchester United

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