FOOTBALL NEWS

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

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.

Take a punt: Ten points is normally regarded as the required tally to progress to the last 16 of the Champions League and United can get to within one of that total by beating Braga at Old Trafford tonight. The Reds are 2/5 to get the job done and the hosts’ quicksilver strikeforce could rack up the goals against a team that shipped four in their last outing in the Portuguese top flight. United are 21/20 to win by at least two clear goals, while the Reds to win a game of four or more goals looks a great punt at 12/5, considering the end-to-end nature of Saturday’s victory over Stoke. Register with bwin here and claim up to £20 in free bets with your first deposit to place on tonight’s game.

Rivals watch: In Group H, Galatasaray host CFR Cluj in Turkey. Elsewhere on Tuesday, United’s competition rivals Barcelona host Celtic, Bayern Munich travel to Lille while reigning champions Chelsea make the long journey to Shakhtar

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