Manchester United will have to make do without Rio Ferdinand for their Champions League opener at Benfica tonight as the Red Devils kick off their Champions League campaign for 2011.
The England centre-back will be rested after completing his first 90 minutes of the season against Bolton on Saturday and with Chelsea next up in the Barclays Premier League, Ferdinand will not be risked for the trip to Portugal.
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United have made a storming start domestically and will go into the Estadio da Luz clash full of confidence, even without their first choice defensive pairing of Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Vidic is still missing with a calf problem but it gives Jonny Evans and Phil Jones a chance to renew acquaintances in the heart of the defence.
Boss Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted that he will go for experience in other areas of the pitch, however, and Michael Owen, Dimitar Berbatov, Ryan Giggs, Ji Sung Park and Darren Fletcher could all start. Young starlet Tom Cleverly will miss out though after picking up a foot injury at the Reebok Stadium.
For Benfica, Argentinian midfielder Enzo Perez is a doubt due to a knee injury that prevented him from appearing in the weekend contest with Vitoria Guimaraes.
There is some good news for the Portuguese giants, however, with the club welcoming back Ezequiel Garay, Nolito and Maxi Pereira at the weekend after spells on the sidelines.
The Estadio da Luz Champions League opener kicks off at 19:45 UK time tomorrow and even though the Premier League champions will have a youthful backline, you just can’t see United getting beat.
The Old Trafford club are just too quick and too powerful at the moment and they ooze confidence and experience in this competition – in fact, United have won more games than any other club in the history of the Champions League.
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