Early Team News:United Vs Benfica
Jose Mourinho has told journalists he can play Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford together, but the Manchester United manager naturally did not reveal his plans for the UEFA Champions League match against Benfica.
Martial and Rashford have almost been taking it in turns to start on the left flank throughout the season so far, scoring 13 goals between them and registering an impressive tally of assists.
In Saturday's Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur, Martial came on for Rashford and grabbed the winning goal in front of the Stretford End at Old Trafford. It was the fourth time the Frenchman has scored as a substitute this campaign and he is naturally eager to start against Benfica.
During a press conference at the Aon Training Complex, Jose was asked if he can start both forwards together and whether he might rotate against Benfica with Sunday’s trip to Chelsea in mind.
“We played Marcus and Anthony together at Swansea one week ago so yes they can play together,” he said. “That's no problem. What we cannot do is play with 12 men, and we cannot play with everybody at the same time. But we did play them together, so we can repeat that against Benfica or we can repeat in any other match. But nobody here thinks about any other match than Benfica. Nobody here thinks about Chelsea, so it is Benfica - just Benfica - and the Champions League.”
Mourinho also confirmed his squad has not suffered any further injuries and that the same players from the weekend are available to him in midweek. The mission now is to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, which will be secured with a victory over Benfica if CSKA Moscow beat FC Basel in the other Group A fixure.
“We have so many matches and if we can qualify tomorrow, it would be better,” Jose told MUTV. “If we can qualify in first place, you cannot say it would be better in terms of the last-16 draw than finishing second in the group because sometimes you finish first and get bad draws, but football is football and we’d prefer to finish first than second. Let’s try to qualify first though.
“Benfica are a better team than Basel and CSKA. Yes, they are in a difficult position and now they can really only expect to get enough points to go into the Europa League. So they are going to try to get at least a point from our match. Since we played in Lisbon they have won both of their [domestic] matches.
I think they are more confident, they are more Benfica than two weeks ago, so I expect a difficult match.”
The boss also had kind words for Benfica's Mile Svilar who, at 18 years old, became the youngest goalkeeper in Champions League history two weeks ago but made a terrible error by carrying Marcus Rashford’s free-kick into his own net to hand United the 1-0 victory in Portugal.
“He is very good,” the manager added on @MUTV. “In the next match after us, he kept a clean sheet and the same again at the weekend. He has a good personality and is a good goalkeeper.”
MUTV 's live build-up to United v Benfica begins at 17:45 GMT on Tuesday.