Manchester United welcome back Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic and Paul Scholes to their Champions League squad for Tuesday's match against Porto at Old Trafford after they were suspended from domestic action at the weekend. Manager Alex Ferguson's prospects of establishing a healthy quarter-final first leg lead over Porto would be enhanced further if centre-back Rio Ferdinand shakes off a back injury to play. However, Ferguson will definitely be without striker Dimitar Berbatov who has an ankle injury and will be sidelined for the next two weeks. Holders United, looking to extend their record unbeaten run in the Champions League to 22 matches, go into the game in a far better of frame of mind than looked likely after 80 minutes of Sunday's Premier League match against Aston Villa. They trailed 2-1 and appeared to be heading for a third league defeat in a row before late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and teenage substitute Federico Macheda gave them a 3-2 win. The result transformed the mood at Old Trafford with United going back on top of the Premier League and keeping alive their hopes of winning five trophies this season. HULK THREAT United will start favourites although, five years ago, Porto knocked United out 3-2 on aggregate in the last 16 on their way to winning the trophy. Coach Jose Mourinho performed a touchline jig that is still a bad memory for many Red Devils fans. Jesualdo Ferreira's Porto team are not as organised nor as tactically disciplined as the one Mourinho built, but they have plenty of attacking threat and go into the match in top form. However, their record in England is poor, losing 11 of the 12 matches they have played. The only exception was the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford against United in 2004. Hulk, the Brazilian striker who has attracted attention in Spain after a brilliant display in the first leg of the last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid, will pose a threat with aggression and pace reminiscent of his compatriot Ronaldo. "I am at my best moment of the season," he said after Porto beat Guimaraes on Saturday. The same can be said for his team, favourites to win a fourth successive Portuguese title, after Ferreira turned the club's season around following a weak start which included a 4-0 thrashing by Arsenal in the group phase. Ferreira found his best eleven after the bad patch in October, starting Hulk regularly and buying Frenchman Aly Cissokho to successfully shore up the left side of the defence. Argentine striker Lisandro Lopez, who scored six goals on Porto's route to the last eight, said: "We have to consider that we have a very young team, with little experience at this level. For us, the tie is a real final." Probable teams: Manchester United: 1-Edwin van der Sar; 22-John O'Shea, 5-Rio Ferdinand, 15-Nemanja Vidic, 3-Patrice Evra; 7-Cristiano Ronaldo, 16-Michael Carrick, 18-Paul Scholes, 11-Ryan Giggs; 32-Carlos Tevez, 10-Wayne Rooney Porto: 1-Helton; 2-Bruno Alves, 14-Rolando, 21-Sapunaru, 28-Cissokho; 8-Lucho, 16-Raul Meireles, 25-Fernando; 9-Lisandro Lopez, 10-Cristian Rodriguez, 12-Hulk Referee: Konrad Plautz (Austria)
6 April 2009
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