UEFA CL: What Manchester United must do at Benfica
Manchester United travel to Portugal to play their 3rd Champions League game of the season. A win against Benfica will put the Red Devils on the brink of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages.
Benfica lost their first two games and a defeat on Wednesday will knock them out of the Champions League. United are still without the midfield trio of Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, and Michael Carrick. Meanwhile, Benfica right-back Andrea Almeida will miss out through suspension.
Here are some things that Manchester United need to do at Benfica to emerge victorious
Start Rashford upfront
Romelu Lukaku has been in superb form for Manchester United over the last two months and has not missed any action. He had an injury scare ahead of the international break and looked very tired against Liverpool at Anfield.
With the list of fixtures coming thick and fast, Mourinho will look to give Lukaku some rest and keep him fresh, as he can't afford to lose the Belgian at this key juncture.
Rashford has primarily played on the left and dazzled in the no.9 role whenever he has been given a chance. He deserves a chance to lead the attack and Mourinho knows he can do it brilliantly against Benfica.
Exploit Benfica's ageing defence
Luisao and Jardel started as centre-backs for Benfica in the first 2 UEFA Champions League games and they are most likely to continue against United. Once the best defender in Portugal and Europe, Luisao is struggling with age (36) and Basel striker Oberlin drove at him successfully too many times when they played Basel last month.
Jardel at 31, is not in his prime and the defensive pair is finding it hard to complement each other. It was evident in the Basel encounter, when Luisao and Jardel did not have an answer for Basel's pace and energy and ended up conceding 5 goals.
WIth Andre Almeida suspended, Luisao and Jardel have to be at their best to stop the free-scoring Manchester United attack.
Inject pace into the attack
Benfica midfielders Ljubomir Fejsa and Pizzi are having a great season and Manchester United need to inject a lot of pace into their game to unsettle the midfield duo.
Basel troubled Benfica with fast-paced football and Mourinho is aware of it. The Portuguese may look to start Jesse Lingard in place of Juan Mata on the right. Lingard is fresh and can offer a lot of pace and energy to the tired-looking Manchester United lineup. Antony Martial is an option on the left and these two can wreak havoc on both flanks with their pace.
Benfica is expected to organize defensively at the back and Mourinho will need pace on the wings to stretch their defence.
Give Shaw and Lindelof a chance to prove themselves
Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof travelled with the Manchester United squad for the Wednesday fixture against Benfica. Shaw, 22, has only made one appearance for the Red Devils this season because of series of injuries and his United career never took off. With United well placed in the group after 2 wins from 2 games, It's the perfect time for Mourinho to give his struggling left-back a chance against underwhelming Benfica side.
Lindelof will be making his first return to his former club after the big money United move. Lindelof, in particular, will be wanting to prove a point or two to Mourinho at his home turf.
He has not been able to nail down a place in the United back line yet, but, with Eric Bailly injured, Lindelof will hope to get a foot in after a tough start to his United career, if provided with a chance.
Man mark Benfica's marksman Jonas
Benfica's Brazilian star - Jonas has been one of the most consistent goal scorers in Europe ever since he moved to Benfica in 2014. The 33-year-old has already scored 10 times this season and is looking in a good shape ahead of the Manchester United clash.
He is one of the best finishers in the world and is excellent with the ball at his feet. Jones, Lindelof, and Smalling will have a tough time against Benfica's prolific marksman. He is intelligent off the ball and makes good runs into the 6-yard box. Herrera will most likely be given the job of tailing the Brazilian.
Mourinho will be aware of the threat Jonas could pose, and keeping him quiet will be key to United's success in Portugal.