Manchester United - Braga Preview: Red Devils look to edge closer to second round berth
Sir Alex Ferguson's team will seek their third victory in three games in this season's Champions League when they face the Portuguese club at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening
By Oliver Platt
Rafael, Wootton, Evans, Buttner
Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Young
Baiano, Douglao, Vinicius, Elderson
Alan, Mossoro, Barbosa
Chris Smalling (foot), Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones (both knee) remain absent from the Manchester United defence, and Sir Alex Ferguson also revealed that Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra are to be rested, so the manager could turn to youth in the form of Scott Wootton.
Paul Scholes could be rested having played in Saturday's victory over Stoke City, with Tom Cleverley and Anderson both waiting in the wings for a midfield berth.
Ashley Young has returned to fitness and will feature according to Sir Alex, while Nani is also pushing for a place out wide.
Ruben Micael and Ruben Amorim will compete for a place in support of striker Eder for Braga but Helder Barbosa and Marcio Mossoro may be preferred having helped the Portuguese club to beat rivals Guimaraes in the league.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Wayne Rooney scored his 200th club goal in Manchester United's 4-2 victory over Stoke City on Saturday. Thirty-one of his strikes have come in European competition.
- A Portuguese club proved part of the Red Devils' group stage undoing in last season's Champions League. United were held to draws home and away to Benfica as they fell to third place, and a spot in the Europa League.
- United do, however, have an impressive record overall against Portuguese opposition. In all continental tournaments they have played 23, won 14, drawn five and lost four against clubs from the Iberian nation.
- Sir Alex Ferguson's team have not failed to score in 14 Champions League matches, with Marseille last holding them off the scoresheet in a 0-0 draw.
- Braga are currently managed by Jose Peseiro (pictured right), who was assistant manager to former Manchester United No.2 Carlos Queiroz during his time as manager of Real Madrid.
- The Arcebispos (Archbishops) play their home matches at the distinctive Estadio Municipal de Braga. The ground was built for Euro 2004 and is carved into the face of a quarry, meaning that stands run only along the two sides of the pitch.
- Braga achieved their best-ever league finish in the 2009-10 season, when they placed in second in the Portuguese Liga under the management of former Portugal striker Domingos.
- Domingos led Braga to the Europa League final in 2010-11 - a match they lost to compatriots Porto - but was sacked after just one season in charge of Sporting Lisbon.
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Top 3 Predictions
Man Utd. 3-0 Sporting Braga
- 23.65 %
Man Utd. 3-1 Sporting Braga
- 15.64 %
Man Utd. 2-0 Sporting Braga
- 14.57 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 7, 2012||Sporting Braga 1 - Man Utd. 3|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Oct 23, 2012||Man Utd. 3 - Sporting Braga 2|
|Mar 8, 2014||West Bromwich Albion 0 - Man Utd. 3||EPL|
|Feb 25, 2014||Olympiakos Piraeus 2 - Man Utd. 0||UCL|
|Feb 22, 2014||Crystal Palace 0 - Man Utd. 2||EPL|
|Feb 12, 2014||Arsenal 0 - Man Utd. 0||EPL|
|Feb 9, 2014||Man Utd. 2 - Fulham 2||EPL|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
|14||Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez||Striker|
|20||Robin van Persie||Striker|
|26||Paulo Vinícius de Souza Nascimento||Defender|
|21||Uwa Elderson Echiejile||Defender|
Having established himself as his club's midfield lynchpin, Carrick is now back in the fray for his country and enjoying one of the most productive periods of his career at age 31. He must ensure that United exert a degree of control over this home match from the first whistle in order to avoid a potential upset. The Red Devils were not convincing at home in Europe last season and their narrow victory over Galatasaray suggested that there is still work to do.
The winger earned himself a move to Porto in 2005 having impressed with Maritimo but was released after a mixed three years with the 26-time league champions. He has since cemented his status as an important player for Braga and remains a regular selection on the right flank even at the age of 33. The Brazilian will expect to test Patrice Evra on the counter-attack at Old Trafford.
This match should prove a routine win for the Red Devils but the performance they deliver will be of interest. Their more attacking outlook and the ageing of a previously formidable back line has resulted in more difficult evenings than they would ideally like under the Champions League floodlights and a clean sheet will be the first order of the day here.