First Team

Benfica vs Manchester United: Predicted XI – Victor Lindelof and Juan Mata start

Manchester United could all but secure qualification to the last 16 of this year’s Champions League with a win over Benfica at the Estadio da Luz on Wednesday night.

Jose Mourinho’s men have been practically faultless on their return to Europe’s elite, claiming an emphatic 3-0 win over FC Basel at home and strolling past CSKA Moscow away from home. Another win would take them to nine points and one points off the magic double figure total normally sufficient to secure passage to the next round.

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And they will fancy their chances against a Benfica side low on confidence following a substandard start to both their domestic and continental campaigns: they are currently third in Primeira Liga, closer to seventh than first, and have lost 2-1 at home to CSKA and 5-0 away to Basel so far in Europe, making a win over the group leaders paramount.

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Moreover, United will have to contend with a number of absences in Lisbon: Eric Bailly and Marouane Fellaini didn’t travel with the squad after picking up injuries over the international break, while Paul Pogba, Michael Carrick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic remain on the sidelines. Marcos Rojo, set to return to action in December, has made the trip to Portugal with Luke Shaw, who completed 90 minutes for the reserves against West Ham United last weekend. Mourinho will most likely hand a rest to Henrikh Mkhitaryan as well following the Armenian’s recent commitments for both club and country.

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With all that in mind, here is our predicted XI for the clash with Rui Vitoria’s men on Wednesday night.

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By Leo Nieboer

Mourning the loss of Danny Welbeck

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