UCL Preview: Man United team ‘easy to guess’ – Morinho

Jose Mourinho says “it is easy to guess” his Manchester United team for the Champions League tie at Benfica after claiming he is short of options.

The Red Devils manager is still without Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and Eric Bailly through injury, along with long-term absentee Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Defenders Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw are nearing returns, but Wednesday’s trip to Portugal is too soon for the pair.

United top Group A after winning both of their opening games.

After convincing victories against Basel and CSKA Moscow, another three points against the Portuguese champions will put Mourinho’s side on the verge of the last 16.

The three-time European champions have not reached the Champions League knockout phase since 2013-14.

Benfica, however, are fighting to keep their qualification hopes alive after a 2-1 home defeat to CSKA and a 5-0 thrashing at Basel.

Rui Vitoria’s side are third in the Portuguese top flight, having lost only once in their opening eight games.

How likely are Man Utd to progress?

Sports data specialists Gracenote Sports have simulated the remainder of the Champions League group phase one million times based on their current ratings for the clubs involved and their results to date, and have come up with a probability percentage of each side progressing to the knockout stage.

Simon Gleave, head of analysis at Gracenote Sports, said: “Manchester United’s 4-1 win in Moscow on matchday two pushed their chance of reaching the last-16 up to 98%.

“CSKA are ranked by the Euro Club Index as the second-best team in the group so an away win for United against them was an excellent result.

“United will virtually seal their place in the knockout phase with a win this week at Benfica.”

Can United continue productive run against Benfica?

  • Benfica have won only one of their nine games against Manchester United in all competitions (drawing two and losing six) – a 2-1 home win in the 2005-06 Champions League group stages
  • Manchester United have never failed to score against their Portuguese opponents
  • United have reached the knockout stages in 16 of their previous 20 Champions League appearances
  • The Red Devils have won their opening two games of a Champions League campaign for the first time since 2012-13
  • United have won only one of their last six away games in the Champions League (drawing one, losing four) – their last game against CSKA Moscow
  • Mourinho’s team have scored more headed goals than any other team in this season’s Champions League (three)

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