FOOTBALL NEWS

22/10/2012 13:01, Report by Mark Froggatt
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Preview: United v Braga

boss, recording a dramatic penalty shootout play-off win over Udinese in August. The former Sporting manager, who was once assistant to former Reds coach Carlos Queiroz at Real Madrid, has previously worked in Saudi Arabia, Greece and Romania, but most famously made his name in charge of CD Nacional, where he took the Madeira club from the third division to the Portuguese Liga in just three seasons

Star man: Portuguese striker Éder is the obvious goal threat, having already scored four goals in the league this term, though Braga’s chief architect is undoubtedly Alan. A tricky right-winger with a delicious final delivery, the skipper notched seven domestic assists last campaign and his invention is now even more crucial to his team’s cause after last season’s top scorer Lima left on transfer deadline day.

Quote/unquote: “Braga are a good team. You have to respect them for getting to this stage to start with. It is not easy in any league to go through the whole season near the top. You have to respect them. They are going to be of a certain standard and we have to match it.” – Michael Carrick

Sub-plots: Victory for United would promote the Reds up to nine points at the top of Group H, six above Braga with just three games to go, allowing Sir Alex Ferguson to consider rotating his squad for the remaining matches. However, the boss will be wary of last season’s disastrous campaign, when a 2-2 home draw with fellow Portuguese opponents Benfica contributed to an early exit.

Whistle blower: An international referee since 2009, Milorad Mažić has swiftly risen to the top European level, having long been established as one of Serbia's finest officials. The 39-year-old has not previously taken charge of either club and only made his Champions League debut for the recent play-off match between AEL Limassol FC and RSC Anderlecht.

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