Where Eagles dare
Manchester United are in such rampant form that Benfica coach Jorge Jesus says he will have to deploy cautious tactics to salvage even a point from Wednesday's Champions League Group C opener against last season's runners-up.sports Updated: Sep 14, 2011 00:02 IST
Manchester United are in such rampant form that Benfica coach Jorge Jesus says he will have to deploy cautious tactics to salvage even a point from Wednesday's Champions League Group C opener against last season's runners-up.
Twice European champions Benfica, nicknamed the Eagles, face a stern test at home against a United side who have burst out of the blocks in their Premier League title defence with a 100 percent record and lead the table on goal difference.
Still, Benfica coach Jorge Jesus believes his team can grab points if they are able to adjust their attack-minded tactics to counter United's flowing attack.
"We want to be stronger tactically, if we manage that, we will balance out the match. There are three points on the table but in the Champions League every single point is important," said the Portuguese coach.
Benfica, knocked out at the group stage last year, will be confident of progressing this time given the other teams in the group, Switzerland's FC Basel and Romanian debutants Otelul Galati, look very beatable.
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney will be looking to translate his rampant domestic form into Champions League goals. The England forward has scored back-to-back hat-tricks in Premier League games, the latest coming in Saturday's 5-0 thumping of Bolton Wanderers.
"It's down to maturity," manager Alex Ferguson said of Rooney, who has notched eight league goals.
Manchester City begin their Champions League campaign as the debutants no one wants to face thanks to a dazzling start to their domestic season and a squad bursting with expensive talent.
Goals have flowed for City this season as easily as hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent and bookmakers have installed Roberto Mancini's men among the favourites for European glory before their Group A opener at home to Napoli on Wednesday.
The group's heavyweights, in terms of seedings in the draw, are Bayern Munich and Villarreal but the German club's winger Franck Ribery summed up the issue by holding his head in his hands when hearing that the world's richest club were in his group. “I saw Ribery's reaction -- and I think he is a clever man,” Mancini said. “We are in a difficult group -- but so are Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Napoli. The group we are in is very strong. It is so strong that there is a chance we could finish in fourth position.”
Inter Milan coach Gian Piero Gasperini refused to discuss changing his defensive system of a back three ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Trabzonspor at the San Siro.
Gasperini came in for fierce criticism following his side's 4-3 defeat at Palermo on Sunday in their opening Serie A match of the season.
But he has kept fans and rivals guessing over whether he will ditch his preferred formation for a more regular back four.
“We'll see, the appointment is at 20.45 (on Wednesday). It will depend a lot on the situation and our opponents,” Gasperini said.
“You move on from the best things you did and try to maintain those while moving on from the errors you made, including some huge ones, trying not to repeat them. We'll try to work as hard as we can so we improve and put in a different type of performance.”