Benfica vs Manchester United preview, betting tips and prediction: Martial to star in victory for Red Devils

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Manchester United to win and Anthony Martial to score first @ 11/2 with Betfair

Manchester United to win with under 2.5 goals @ 16/5 with Betfair

Draw HT/Manchester United FT @ 7/2 with Betfair

Manchester United have enjoyed a great season so far, having not yet lost a game in all competitions, excluding the Super Cup against Real Madrid. Jose Mourinho’s side look very much like a team in his image; strong, powerful and efficient. More often than not, they get the outcome they’re looking for, just as they did by parking the bus and taking a second successive 0-0 draw at Anfield against Liverpool at the weekend.

Last season, Mourinho got them organised but struggled to add the attacking flair to turn a lot of draws into wins. It has been a different story this term; by scoring in his first seven Premier League and two Champions League outings, Romelu Lukaku amassed a lot of the credit, but there have been several differences over the past few months. The arrival of Nemanja Matic has shored things up in midfield and allowed Paul Pogba to impact games in attack before he got injured, but Anthony Martial’s improvement has been huge. The Frenchman struggled for form last season but suddenly looks fitter and stronger than ever. It can be argued the Red Devils lacked attacking quality at the weekend, but given how good they have looked throughout the campaign, it can be put down to the tactical plan.

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In their last Champions League outing, a 4-1 win at CSKA Moscow, they showed that quality. Lukaku netted twice, with Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan completing the scoring. The Frenchman was particularly impressive, adding another dimension to the wide play; he certainly deserved his goal and is well priced to score first in a United win at 11/2 with Betfair.

 

Benfica are traditionally very good at home, but losing to CSKA on the opening night was a real setback. They need the points to get back on track and will look to push on early, leaving space for the likes of Martial and Lukaku to exploit on the counter attack. Jonas is a real goalscoring threat for the hosts, but he lacks pace and that should play into the hands of a team who have only conceded three goals all season. It is hard to see this one being a classic, but United’s quality should see them through, especially with options like Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford to come off the bench. A second half win at 7/2 or even 16/5 for under 2.5 goals could reap rewards.

Key battle: Andreas Samaris vs Nemanja Matic

 

It will be an emotional night for Matic, who returned to the club who changed his role from winger to holding midfielder with such success. The Serb, as mentioned above, has set the tone for a steely start to the season for Mourinho’s side and he will do so again. Samaris will look to impact the game from an advanced central role, and it will be Matic’s job to snuff him out.

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But as the injury to Paul Pogba has shown, Matic can get forward too. Instead of waiting for the play to come to him, he hunts the ball and gets on the front foot. This will be vital if United are to use the counter attack to full effect.

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