United reshuffle as Braga come calling
Monday, 22 October 2012
Sir Alex Ferguson may be shuffling his Manchester United FC pack but he recognises SC Braga's threat and, as visiting coach José Peseiro says, "doesn't underestimate us".
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Sir Alex Ferguson is prepared to make changes to his defence and midfield for Manchester United FC's UEFA Champions League Group H encounter with an SC Braga side who have taken plenty of confidence from an eye-catching 2-0 victory at Galatasaray AŞ on matchday two – earning praise from the Red Devils' manager in the process.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson
For me, Braga are better away from home and they proved that with their 2-0 win at Galatasaray. So, once again it looks like counterattacking football will play a big part, which we also saw in our first game here against Galatasaray. They caused us problems but we managed to hold out until half-time and took a hold of the game in the second period. I'll be leaving out Rio [Ferdinand] and Patrice Evra, and a couple of the older players, in light of the game on Sunday [against Chelsea FC].
We've had some success with a [midfield] diamond recently, while at this club we've always had a tradition of playing with wide players. We've got Ashley Young back, Nani, [Antonio] Valencia and [Ryan] Giggs, who are all wide players, while we've got plenty of options in central midfield too.
We actually rested players on Saturday like [Shinji] Kagawa and [Tom] Cleverley, both who've been playing very well – so I wouldn't say we're underestimating Braga at all. I think the level of the game in England and Europe is so high now, that making yourself unpredictable can be a strength. When it comes to United, teams will now have to think: 'Are they going to play with two out wide? Or with a midfield diamond?' With players like Kagawa, Cleverley and Giggs, they can give us that flexibility.
Saturday: United 4-2 Stoke City FC (Rooney 27 65, Van Persie 44, Welbeck 65; Rooney og 11, Kightly 58)
De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Scholes, Carrick; Van Persie, Rooney, Welbeck.
• Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck both struck their first club goals of the season. Rooney also put through his own net for the first time in his career.
Nemanja Vidić remains sidelined with a knee injury, but Ashley Young is back from knee injury.
Coach José Peseiro
Sir Alex Ferguson praised Braga very highly only a few days ago, so he doesn't underestimate us. He's got an excellent squad with plenty of talent to choose from, while he also said earlier today that he rested players especially for this game. They're one of the best teams in the world and don't tend to suffer much when they make changes, so it'll be very tough whoever they put out.
We've got good players and a good team too, so we're going to be trying to win. But if we can't win then a draw is a good result too. We'll need to defend well, try and keep hold of the ball and keep believing we are capable of winning. Of course, we don't have the same resources as United, but I have complete faith in the players I've got. It doesn't do the coach or players any good at all if you start thinking any other way.
Any praise from someone like Alex Ferguson is fantastic, but our players won't need any extra motivation – they'll get more than enough when playing in a stadium like this.
I spent a fortnight here when Carlos Queiroz was here and I spoke to Alex about Nani, because I think at the time he was trying to decide who to sign between Yuri Zhirkov and Nani. We spoke about him three or four times and later United invited me to the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow, as Queiroz told me they appreciated that I'd given them good information about Nani.
Friday: Braga 3-0 Leixões SC (Viana 98, Micael 103, Éder 115)
Quim; Baiano, Coelho, Vinícius, Ismaily (Amorim 53); Djamal, Mossoró, Viana, Barbosa (Éder 62); Michel (Rúben Micael 91), Alan.
• Braga needed extra time to see off second-tier Leixões in the Portuguese Cup third round. Éder's goal was his fifth in his last five club games in all competitions.
Douglão, Djamal and Paulo César have all stayed in Portugal due to injury. Ismaily and Ruben Amorim faced fitness tests in Monday's training session, while Alan is a doubt after only recently returning from injury.
United have never lost at home to Portuguese opponents but Peseiro's Braga are on a seven-match unbeaten sequence on their travels in Europe, and are unbeaten in five games against English clubs.