How Manchester United Should Set Up to Beat Braga in the Champions League

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How Manchester United Should Set Up to Beat Braga in the Champions League
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Chicharito vs. Braga

It's Week 4 of the Champions League, and after the shock two-goal giveaway in the first leg, everybody will be intrigued to see how Sir Alex Ferguson sets up Manchester United in Braga.

United never play for a draw, and this will be no exception. The manager has already had one big disappointment, with his selected side unable to hold on to a 3-2 lead for eight seconds against Chelsea last Wednesday.

His priority this year is simply to win his group. Nothing less will do. That has been clear from the off regarding his team selection.

Last year's campaign was a massive shock. His team were far too complacent, and the results against Benfica and Basel wrecked United's chances of qualifying, let alone winning the group.

Apart from the obvious prestige and bragging rights, why is it important to win the group?

Firstly, to get a better draw in the knockout stages; second, because he can play the remaining two games with youngsters and players needing European experience.

Sir Alex may seem to imply that merely qualifying is important, which it is, but after last year's debacle, nothing less than cruising through will do.

In this respect, he has had a timely reminder to shove down the players' throats, after the dreadfully half-paced walkover against Arsenal on Saturday. Okay, so that match said a lot about how far Arsenal have to go to catch up, but it should have been a pasting, and goal difference is paramount this season.

So you can bet that Ferguson will be laying it on with a trowel as to how angry he was on Saturday, also reminding the players of their pathetic performance in what should have been an easy group last season.

He showed on Saturday that he is prepared to rotate less than in recent years to get the right results against difficult opposition, keeping the same team from the Chelsea EPL match.

There have already been more than enough hints that he will continue to play a strong team until qualification is certain in the Champions League.


Emerging talent

There have been a couple of other significant markers laid down about this season in the last week or so.

MUTV ran a new programme last week entitled "Emerging Talent." Sir Alex will have approved the selection of players personally, because he likes to encourage future talent, but also wants to keep players' feet firmly on the ground.

The six players featured were: Marnick Vermijl, Scott Wootton, Michele Fornasier, Michael Keane, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Jesse Lingard. 

There have been other markers: Vermijl, Wootton, Keane, Powell, Brady and Tunnicliffe were used in the Newcastle Capital One match; and in addition, Macheda was brought on as sub in the Chelsea leg. In the squad for both matches were Lingard, Brady and Johnstone, in addition to those mentioned above.

However, Brady has gone back to Hull City on loan, and Keane and Lingard to Leicester City, as a result of United's elimination.

That means that the following have been retained as possible inclusions in tomorrow night's squad, or for the remaining two matches if United win the Group tomorrow.

Therefore, the young players who could get a run in the final two Champions League matches or possibly be in the squad tomorrow are: Vermijl, Wootton, Fornasier, Tunnicliffe, Powell and Johnstone.

Plus, there are others who could come into contention, including King, Macheda and Cole.

However, the importance of the match suggests they will have to wait a week or two.

So before we consider how Manchester United should set up against Braga tomorrow, let's look at the possible squad.

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