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Cobos: Neymar stronger in 2014-15

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By ESPN Staff
Dec 6, 2006

No plan to shackle Ronaldo - Benfica boss

Benfica coach Fernando Santos insists he has no special plans to man-mark Cristiano Ronaldo in tonight's make-or-break Champions League clash with Manchester United.

The Portuguese giants need a win to advance into the last 16 at United's expense for the second season running and Santos recognises the danger Ronaldo poses to his side's hopes.

However, rather than turn the 21-year-old into a special case, Santos is looking for collective action to counter the winger's threat.

'We know Cristiano can change a match on his own because he is so difficult to play against,' said Santos.

'There will be no special treatment for him but we need to try and keep the ball away from him and defend well when he does have it.'

Benfica could hardly have expected to be given the opportunity of dumping United out of the competition once more given their hosts secured maximum points from their opening three games.

Yet, defeats to FC Copenhagen and Celtic have opened the door for Benfica, who have won their last two games, but who need to become the first side to defeat the Red Devils in group stage combat at Old Trafford since 2001 if they are to make it through.

Sir Alex Ferguson was among the crowd on Friday as Benfica warmed up for their trip to England in the best possible fashion, beating fierce local rivals Sporting Lisbon at the Estadio Jose Alvalade on Friday.

However, Santos claims his side will have to improve.

'Manchester United are much stronger this year than last, so what happened 12 months ago will have no bearing on this result,' he said.

'If we are to beat them, we must play better than we did on Friday in terms of concentration, determination and organisation.'

Santos is expected to name the same side which started against Sporting, although the indications are Nuno Gomes will operate behind Simao and fellow forward Fabrizio Miccoli.