Manchester United vs Benfica preview, betting tips and predictions: Red Devils victory to press home Group advantage
Manchester United to win both halves @ 2/1 with Betfair
Manchester United to win 2-0 @ 9/2 with Betfair
Manchester United to win with a -2 handicap @ 11/4 with Betfair
It says a lot about how quickly football changes that, in three games, Manchester United have gone from a sure-fire Champions League contender and back to their best to a team that needs a lot more work. When Romelu Lukaku could not stop scoring, as he had in his first seven Premier League games and two in Europe, the Red Devils could not breathe for lavishing praise. But they come into their home clash with Benfica with a lot to prove.
A draw at Liverpool, in which they barely attempted to score, and a narrow win in the last meeting with their next opponents in Lisbon were followed up by defeat to Huddersfield Town. Even the victory in the Estadio Da Luz came only as a result of a very poor error from Benfica’s young goalkeeper Mile Svilar. Yet, Jose Mourinho’s side are top of their group with a 100% record and it is Benfica who are in more need of the points. It has been a disastrous campaign for a team expected to be United’s closest challengers; they have lost all three games so far and are cut adrift in fourth place. This appears, on paper, a good opportunity for the home side to recover their best form, but they have continued to miss the impetus the injured Paul Pogba brings in midfield; without him, they have looked as laboured as they did at times last season.
But we are backing them to succeed in this game and quite comfortably, too. The bookmakers are making them heavy favourites understandably, meaning it is harder to find value. But even our first tip, United to win in both halves, which at first glance appears very short at 2/1 with Betfair, it is still a good way of doubling your money with the right stake. Benfica will attempt to frustrate them and play on the counter attack, but United have been much better at coming out of the blocks at home this season.
Our other tips include a 2-0 win at 9/2, covering the possibility that it could be a long evening, and -2 handicap at 11/4, which suggests that, if they do score early, they should ease to victory fairly comfortably.
Key battle: Marcus Rashford vs Alex Grimaldo
Benfica’s defence will be weakened by the suspension of captain Luisao after je was sent off in the last meeting two weeks ago. It also remains to be seen if Svilar will continue in goal. Grimaldo is one of Benfica’s best players and is very useful in attack, but his defensive qualities will be closely examined on Tuesday night.
Marcus Rashford is continuing to impress for United and this will be a very good match up. His directness will force Grimaldo back and that will help United contain Benfica generally. Attack is most certainly the best form of defence is Mourinho’s men are to win this game and all but confirm a place in the knockout stages, especially given the Portuguese side have conceded eight and scored just one in the Champions League this season.