Sir Alex Ferguson will not be underestimating Benfica as Manchester United prepare for their first Champions League match of the season, with the manager insisting that getting away points on the board is the English side’s number one priority.
United came frustratingly close to lifting the Champions League trophy last season at Wembley, losing to Barcelona 3-1 in the final. And this season the squad are aiming not to be defeated again on the European stage.
While the Red Devils are overwhelming favourites to defeat the Portuguese side
tomorrow night, Ferguson is taking the match very seriously, and is working out a plan of attack for their opponents.
“The opening game is the toughest for us. Benfica are always a handful and we always expect a difficult game,” Ferguson said.
“I watched a couple of their games away from home last season and they were absolutely brilliant.
“I think the hardest part for us will be picking the midfield in that particular game. That area will be the biggest challenge. They operate with three midfield players in there. They don’t play anyone off the front. They play three actual midfield players so we’ll have to have a look at that.”
Ferguson will be looking to play more experienced squad members in the tie, with Tom Cleverley out of contention after injuring his foot against Bolton.
Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen, who have both struggled for game time this season, will also be hoping for chances from the United manager.
Ferguson added: “My team in Lisbon might be different on an issue of experience. We’ve also got Darren Fletcher back fit. He’s looking good and did well with Scotland last week. I think we’ll need to have more experience in the game.
“The important thing is to qualify. Benfica away from home is the kind of the game you have to respect.”
After United play Benfica, they head back to England to prepare to take on title contenders Chelsea.
Ferguson will be drawing on the depth of his squad to make a good start in Europe, and show their intention to win the title.