Last season’s runners-up beat Benfica to lift the first of their three European Cups in 1968 and will travel to Lisbon aiming to extend their 18-month unbeaten away record in the competition.
Benfica will have other ideas as they bid to improve on recent UEFA Champions League disappointments, their last three campaigns having ended in the group stage.
Manchester United have prevailed in six of the clubs’ seven encounters, starting with a quarter-final triumph in the 1965/66 European Champion Clubs’ Cup and continuing with their 4-1 final success at Wembley two years later.
When Benfica beat United 2-1 in Lisbon in December 2005, they eliminated Sir Alex Ferguson’s team at the group stage for the first time since 1994. The only survivor in Benfica’s squad is Luisão while Rio Ferdinand, Park Ji-Sung, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and unused substitute Darren Fletcher remain for United. That was the last time Benfica reached the tournament’s knockout stages.
United avenged that defeat when Louis Saha secured a 1-0 win in Lisbon in September 2006. Their subsequent 3-1 home victory at the end of the group stage consigned Benfica to an early exit. The lineups for that Lisbon meeting on 26 September 2006 were: Benfica: Quim, Alcides, Luisão, Anderson (Mantorras 82), Leo, Petit, Katsouranis, Karagounis (Nuno Assis 61), Paulo Jorge (Miccoli 65), Nuno Gomes, Simão; Manchester United: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidić, Heinze, Ronaldo, Carrick, O’Shea, Scholes, Rooney (Fletcher 83), Saha (Smith 85).
Benfica are seeking a seventh successive home victory in Europe having already posted two wins in qualifying for the group stage to add to four in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League.
Jorge Jesus’ side, runners-up in Portugal last term, overcame Trabzonspor AŞ 2-0 en route to a 3-1 third qualifying round win. They then beat FC Twente 3-1 to wrap up a 5-3 overall success in the play-offs.
Benfica defeated their last two English visitors, Everton FC and Liverpool FC, in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League group stage and quarter-finals respectively, winning 2-0 at Everton but losing 4-1 at Liverpool to bow out of the competition. Óscar Cardozo scored six times in those four matches.
United won five and drew one of six games en route to last season’s UEFA Champions League final. They did not concede a single goal in 540 minutes on the road.
The English champions have emerged with 1-0 victories from their last three visits to Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo scored at FC Porto in the 2008/09 quarter-final second leg and was also on target in a group stage victory at Sporting Clube de Portugal in September 2007. The previous September United had beaten Benfica by the same margin.
Manchester United‘s away record against Portuguese opposition now reads: W5 D1 L4.
Benfica’s record at home to English teams is: W6 D2 L4.
While United were UEFA Champions League finalists last season, Benfica advanced to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals before an away-goals loss to SC Braga.