Michael Owen has explained why Manchester United could look to play for a point away to Benfica on Thursday night.
Jose Mourinho’s men picked up plenty of criticism following the goalless draw with Liverpool for adopting a cautious, regimented approach.
Man United have now kept eight clean sheets this season and haven’t conceded in the Premier League since the 2-2 draw with Stoke City in early September.
And Owen, writing in a column for the Metro, noted that United would continue to place emphasis on maintaining a solid core in Lisbon.
“Manchester United left Anfield with a point at the weekend and, after producing another staunch rear-guard performance in the Premier League, should do likewise to gain a result in the Champions League,” he said.
“United have conceded just four goals in eleven games this season, keeping eight clean sheets, and should add to that tally once more midweek.”
Mourinho’s objective over these back-to-back clashes with the Portuguese champions will be to pick up a minimum of four points, taking United to the magic ten points needed to qualify from the next round.
A draw in Lisbon, therefore, would suffice. Benfica’s last away trip – a 5-0 defeat to FC Basel – shows they have their flaws away from home and United’s superb record at home in Europe since Mourinho’s arrival would point towards three points on October 31.
But Benfica are there for the taking on Wednesday. They are closer to seventh than first in Primeira Liga and simply need to win against United to preserve any hopes of going further in the Champions League, meaning a number of gaps could open up for the likes of Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to exploit.