Nani anticipates midfield battle

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With three goals and four assists in 12 Barclays Premier League appearances this campaign, Sir Alex Ferguson is justifiably pleased with the performances of Manchester United winger Nani so far this year.

However, the 25-year-old Portuguese international is yet to find the target in four matches in the UEFA Champions League this term - something that the Red Devils boss is hoping he can put right against Benfica tonight.

After moving to Old Trafford from Sporting Lisbon in 2007, Nani took time to settle, but Ferguson has hailed the midfielder's progress having now made a successful transition to English football.

"Nani has always had potential," he said. "Some of those who come to our club from abroad do it quickly, others gradually grow into it. Nani is one of those.

"Even Cristiano took two or three years to get the maturity in his game, [and] that is what we are seeing with Nani now.

"The goals have been fine but his assists are very high. He is progressing really well."

Looking ahead to tonight's European encounter, Nani believes the contest for supremacy in UEFA Champions League Group C will be won and lost in midfield.

"I think their strongest point is their midfield. If we are able to control the midfield, then I am sure we have a good chance to have a positive result.

"I'm sure Benfica will play some good football but with a lot of care as well because they know they are playing away at our ground. We will do our best to get the positive result that we aim for."

Nani revealed that tonight's match holds special significance for him personally, having come from Lisbon in Portugal - Benfica's biggest rivals.

"When I played against Benfica for Sporting Lisbon, the games were like United against Manchester City," he added. "They were always tough games.

"My record is okay - I lost one game, won one game, drew another. Of course I used to enjoy it when we beat Benfica. I hope I can win again this time."

UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Luis Nani

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