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Benfica vs Manchester United: Three players who must start

by Leo Nieboer

Jose Mourinho has noted that Manchester United’s team essentially picks itself following a string of injuries in recent weeks.

Marouane Fellaini and Eric Bailly suffered injuries during the international break, while Paul Pogba, Michael Carrick, Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic continue to face time on the sidelines.

And Mourinho will need to ensure he doesn’t tire out any key players with this clash coming in between the 0-0 draw at Anfield and Saturday’s trip to Huddersfield.

With that in mind, here are three players who must start at the Estadio da Luz on Wednesday night.

Juan Mata

The Spaniard, unlike Henrikh Mkhitaryan, didn’t endure lengthy travels over the international break or play at Anfield over the weekend, making him a prime candidate to feature at No.10 for just the second time this season.

Mourinho missed his nimble brilliance on the ball and ability to ghost into space against Liverpool, and you sense he could receive some joy against a Benfica side that will feel obligated to push high up the pitch from minute one.

Victor Lindelof

Finding a place in Mourinho’s Premier League plans has so far proven difficult for Lindelof, but his best route into the starting XI undoubtedly comes through this competition.

The 24-year-old has featured in both games so far and can send out an important message to his manager with an accomplished performance against his old club.

Romelu Lukaku

Having claimed 11 goals in ten games, the critics rushed to bring their knives out after Lukaku drew a blank at Anfield. He was a blunt instrument, unable to hold the ball up or receive touches in the box, and the visit to Lisbon just a few days later presents the Belgian with the perfect chance to set the record straight.

Make no mistake: there will be an added veneer of determination to his approach this time around. Players like Lukaku don’t lie down for very long, after all.

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