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Manchester United V Braga: Match Preview
United will look to continue their 100% record in the Champions League when they welcome Portuguese club Braga to Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
The Manchester club are unbeaten so far in this season's group stage of the Champions League after Sir Alex Ferguson vowed a repeat of last season's embarrassing 3rd place finish in the group would not happen and so far he's stuck to his word. With United getting wins at home and on the road in Europe, beating Galatasaray at home and CFR Cluj away. Although some will argue United have not hit top form in the competition as of yet. They'll be hoping to do that against Braga to make it three wins on the bounce as they look to progress into the knock-out stages. Braga however will be looking to build on their win over Galatasaray and push for a spot in the next round.
Many would agree that Manchester United haven't yet hit top form, in any competition although they have been winning games. Which is often said to be the mark of champions, grinding out results even when the team isn't performing at it's best. They have certainly looked better in Europe this season, winning their first two matches in the group stages home and away and with Rooney and Van Persie now linking up well and producing goals Braga should be wary of the potency of this new up-front combination. The only concern United will have when they face the Portuguese team is the rate at which they have been letting in goals. Conceding 13 goals in all competitions already this season.
Last Five Results:
Manchester United 4 – 2 Stoke
Newcastle 0 – 3 Manchester United
CFR Cluj 1 – 2 Manchester United
Manchester United 2 – 3 Tottenham
Manchester United 2 – 1 Newcastle
Braga come into the match on good form domestically and in Europe, have won 4 of their last five matches and drawing only one, scoring 15 goals in the process. Although they did lose to Cluj despite the fact they were the more dangerous team on the night.
Last Five Results:
Braga 3 – 0 Leixoes
Braga 4 – 4 Olhanense
Galatasaray 0 – 2 Braga
Vtoria Guimaraes 0 – 2 Braga
Braga 4 – 1 Rio Ave
The title of star man is normally pretty straight forward for United, Wayne Rooney has been the main threat at the Manchester club since the departure of Ronaldo. But since the arrival of RVP it has been a closer contest, the way Van Persie has got United out of a few sticky situations already this season is impressive, scoring a hat-trick to deny Southampton a famous win, also scoring a brace to see of Cluj single handedly. But despite RVP's imperious form I still have to go with Wayne Rooney, he can score the goals, provide the passes for the goals and a whole lot more. He really is United's talisman and if they were to be without him for a long period of time I think they would struggle to maintain their winning form even with the likes of Robin Van Persie in the team.
Braga's star man has to be Eder. He is there main goal threat and has already scored four goals for the club in the Portuguese league this season. Although I have to point out another dangerous player in their ranks, Alan who is their main architect playing on the right wing. He has an awesome final ball and notched seven assists for his team last season.
United have never previously lost at home to a Portuguese team and will be looking to keep that record alive on Tuesday night at Old Trafford. The Reds most famous victory against Portuguese opposition was in 1968 when United beat Benfica in the European Cup Final at Wembley.
Braga have never faced United before but they have played against English teams on a previous 14 occasions. Winning just five, drawing two and losing seven of those encounters. Statistics that bode well for Manchester United.
I'm predicting a win for United, all the facts and statistics go against Braga, although I'm sure many of you will be thinking anything is possible in football, which is of course entirely true. United won't find it easy against this gritty and determined Portuguese side who will be looking to upset the odds.
Manchester United 2 – 0 Braga
The usual candidates Rooney and Van Persie to get on the score sheet.
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