Matchday 5 Champions League: Manchester United v Benfica

Wayne Rooney, Man Utd

Champions League: Manchester United v Benfica

Benfica have yet to lose on their away matches in Europe this season, and Óscar Cardozo is fit.

Manchester United FC are on a five-game winning streak as they prepare to play SL Benfica for top spot in Champions League Group A.

Manchester United remain in 2nd place in the Premier League table. Man Utd has been slowed down by a spate of injuries since the start of the season.

Sir Alex Ferguson, considered the most successful manager in the history of English football, recently commented on his club’s fitness in the 2011-12 campaign.

“There have been some changes in the team from the one that started the season,” said Ferguson. “You don’t envisage having quite so many injuries.

“Everyone was fresh at the start. We had been through a brilliant pre-season in the States with not one injury. Then you are hit with a little list. It doesn’t disrupt us to a great degree but it does unsettle the balance of the team.

“Sometimes we are having to rethink which team to play whereas when the team is in full flow you don’t need to worry.”

“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. 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.”

Ferguson said Nani would be a substitute on Tuesday. Wayne Rooney is expected to start for United despite some recent knocks.

Ferguson has been forced to come up with different pairings than usual – he paired Michael Carrick with Ryan Giggs in the centre of United’s midfield at Swansea City on Saturday – Fergie was using his ninth different combination.

Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have filled in for injured players.

Vidic is serving the final game of a two-match European ban in Tuesday’s Champions League encounter with Benfica.

Smalling has started training after suffering a broken bone in his foot and may be available for Saturday’s Premier League clash with Newcastle United.

Danny Welbeck suffered a hamstring strain on England duty but has also started training.

“You hope to finish top,” he said. “One issue is the teams you might draw if you finish second, although with the quality of the teams, it doesn’t make a great difference. The main advantage is knowing the second leg would be at Old Trafford.”

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