United fly out to Portugal in a comfortable position having won the first three games of the group stages in the Champions League.
A win against FC Braga, on Wednesday evening, or even a draw should see us qualify for the knockout stages, something we failed to do last season.
Knowing that qualification, for the next stages, is all but certain, it allows Sir Alex Ferguson to utilize his squad, resting players where deemed necessary and bring in others who wouldn`t normally feature.
One area where this could prove to be particularly beneficial is at the heart of the defence. With Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic all absent, through injury, the fact that the former two are fast approaching full fitness will allow the aging Rio Ferdinand to recuperate for longer periods between important games, or as Sir Alex put it in his pre-match press interview,
"The game in Braga will give me a chance to utilize my squad. I`ll be making some changes."
"If we can get the win it`s better, but we want to make sure we qualify first. If we do, it gives me options to utilize Smalling and Jones."
"Then we can make sure that Ferdinand is fresh for all these games. I won`t have to worry about playing him Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday."
"That`s an important tissue. I don`t expect Vidic to be back until Christmas so it adds back-up in that respect."
Back-up we`ve lacked, at the heart of our defence, all season!