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United have cause for optimism on well-trodden path

Published: Tuesday 30 August 2011, 9.45CET
The 2011 runners-up Manchester United FC visit SL Benfica looking to carry over their excellent away form from last season's competition and uphold a strong recent record in Portugal.
United have cause for optimism on well-trodden path
Nani returns to Lisbon on matchday one to take on Benfica ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

BenficaMan. United

Goals scored13
Attempts on target59
Attempts off target71
Fouls committed145
Yellow cards27
Red cards2
Published: Tuesday 30 August 2011, 9.45CET

United have cause for optimism on well-trodden path

The 2011 runners-up Manchester United FC visit SL Benfica looking to carry over their excellent away form from last season's competition and uphold a strong recent record in Portugal.

Manchester United FC begin their 16th consecutive UEFA Champions League group stage campaign away to familiar rivals in SL Benfica.

• Last season's runners-up beat Benfica to lift the first of their three European Cups in 1968 and will travel to Lisbon aiming to extend their 18-month unbeaten away record in the competition.

• Benfica will have other ideas as they bid to improve on recent UEFA Champions League disappointments, their last three campaigns having ended in the group stage.

Previous meetings
• United have prevailed in six of the clubs' seven encounters, starting with a quarter-final triumph in the 1965/66 European Champion Clubs' Cup and continuing with their 4-1 final success at Wembley two years later.

• When Benfica beat United 2-1 in Lisbon in December 2005, they eliminated Sir Alex Ferguson's team at the group stage for the first time since 1994. The only survivor in Benfica's squad is Luisão while Rio Ferdinand, Park Ji-Sung, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and unused substitute Darren Fletcher remain for United. That was the last time Benfica reached the tournament's knockout stages.

• United avenged that defeat when Louis Saha secured a 1-0 win in Lisbon in September 2006. Their subsequent 3-1 home victory at the end of the group stage consigned Benfica to an early exit.

• The lineups for that Lisbon meeting on 26 September 2006 were:
Benfica: Quim, Alcides, Luisão, Anderson (Mantorras 82), Leo, Petit, Katsouranis, Karagounis (Nuno Assis 61), Paulo Jorge (Miccoli 65), Nuno Gomes, Simão.
Manchester United: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidić, Heinze, Ronaldo, Carrick, O'Shea, Scholes, Rooney (Fletcher 83), Saha (Smith 85).

Match background
• Benfica are seeking a seventh successive home victory in Europe having already posted two wins in qualifying for the group stage to add to four in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League.

• Jorge Jesus' side, runners-up in Portugal last term, overcame Trabzonspor AŞ 2-0 en route to a 3-1 third qualifying round win. They then beat FC Twente 3-1 to wrap up a 5-3 overall success in the play-offs.

• Benfica defeated their last two English visitors, Everton FC and Liverpool FC, in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League group stage and quarter-finals respectively. They defeated Everton 5-0 and Liverpool 2-1, albeit then losing 4-1 at Liverpool to exit the competition. Óscar Cardozo scored six times in four matches against the two Merseyside teams.

• United won five and drew one of six games en route to last season's UEFA Champions League final. They did not concede a single goal in 540 minutes on the road.

• The English champions have emerged with 1-0 victories from their last three visits to Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo scored at FC Porto in the 2008/09 quarter-final second leg and was also on target in a group stage victory at Sporting Clube de Portugal in September 2007. The previous September United had beaten Benfica by the same margin.

• United's away record against Portuguese opposition now reads: W5 D1 L4.

• Benfica's record at home to English teams is: W6 D2 L4.

• While United were UEFA Champions League finalists last season, Benfica advanced to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals before an away-goals loss to SC Braga.

Team ties
• Pablo Aimar made his UEFA Champions League debut against United, playing for Valencia CF in home (0-0) and away (1-1) draws with the English side in the 2000/01 second group stage, before lining up against Ferdinand, then at Leeds United AFC, in the semi-finals.

• Javier Saviola and Patrice Evra played together at AS Monaco FC in 2004/05.

• Rodrigo made 17 league appearances (four starts) on loan at Bolton Wanderers FC last term, scoring once.

• Nani started his career with Sporting. The United winger is a Portugal team-mate of Eduardo and Rúben Amorim.

• Anderson was with Porto from 2005 to 2007. Signed from Grêmio Foot-ball Porto Alegrense, the Brazilian made three league appearances in his first campaign in Portugal but in the second featured 15 times, scoring twice and collecting a championship winners' medal.

Last updated: 17/10/11 11.21CET