Man United v Braga: Ferguson pleased with Red Devils’ midfield flexibility

Man United v Braga: Sir Alex Ferguson says the Red Devils' midfield flexibility is one of their strengths in Europe this season

shinji kagawa
Shinji Kagawa joined Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund this summer Photo: Back Page Images

shinji kagawa

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United’s midfield have a key role to play in helping the Red Devils beat Braga in the Champions League at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

The 70-year-old rested Tom Cleverley and Shinji Kagawa for United’s 4-2 victory over Stoke City on Saturday, with Ashley Young also available after a spell out with a knee problem.

United have a 100 per cent record in Europe this season courtesy of wins against Cluj and Galatasaray, and Ferguson says the Red Devils’ unpredictability in midfield is crucial.

“We’ve had some success with a [midfield] diamond recently, while at this club we’ve always had a tradition of playing with wide players,” said Ferguson.

“We’ve got Ashley Young back, Nani, [Antonio] Valencia and [Ryan] Giggs, who are all wide players, while we’ve got plenty of options in central midfield too.

“We actually rested players on Saturday like [Shinji] Kagawa and [Tom] Cleverley, both who’ve been playing very well – so I wouldn’t say we’re underestimating Braga at all.

“I think the level of the game in England and Europe is so high now, that making yourself unpredictable can be a strength.

“When it comes to United, teams will now have to think: ‘Are they going to play with two out wide? Or with a midfield diamond?’

“With players like Kagawa, Cleverley and Giggs, they can give us that flexibility.”

Manchester United v Braga: Pre-match facts

• United have never lost at home to Portuguese opponents but Jose Peseiro’s Braga are on a seven-match unbeaten sequence on their travels in Europe.

• Braga have since gone five games unbeaten against English opposition, including a 1-0 aggregate success against Liverpool in the 2010-11 Europa League round of 16 and home and away wins over Birmingham in 2011-12.

• In last season’s group stage, United drew 1-1 at SL Benfica and were then held 2-2 at Old Trafford. The Lisbon club – for whom Ruben Amorim played in both games – won the group with United third.

• United’s home record against Portuguese teams is W8 D3 L0. In addition, they won the first of their three European Cups by beating Benfica 4-1 in the 1968 final at Wembley.

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