Robin van Perise lauds pairing with Wayne Rooney at Manchester United
Robin van Persie issued an ominous warning to Braga as the Manchester United forward claimed his partnership with Wayne Rooney is finally beginning to live up to expectations.
Braga have the daunting task of trying to subdue two of Europe's finest frontmen when the Portuguese minnows visit Old Trafford for tonight's Champions League group H clash. But to make matters worse for Braga, Van Persie - who has eight goals in 10 appearances for United - believes his understanding with Rooney has clicked into gear after a slow start following his preseason move from Arsenal.
Van Persie's lack of match practice and an injury to Rooney meant the pair have played together only fleetingly in the opening weeks of the season.
They are finally getting some prolonged time on the pitch to work on their relationship, and the response has been impressive, as Stoke found out on Saturday when Rooney scored twice and Van Persie also netted in a 4-2 win. The deadly duo were also responsible for three of the four assists against Stoke, and Braga's defenders could have been forgiven for cursing their luck as Van Persie described the rapid development of United's strikeforce.
"We are definitely getting more of an understanding," Van Persie said. "We like to play together and work well together.
"It is only the second or third time we have played in this formation but offensively and defensively, we help each other out," he added.
With Danny Welbeck also a growing threat up front, and Javier Hernandez, Nani, Shinji Kagawa and Ashley Young also offering their own attacking menace, it is no surprise that Van Persie expects the Red Devils to produce a glut of goals as the season moves forward.
"We do look exciting going forward. We can score all sorts of goals from many different angles," he said. "That is a good sign and should be a real weapon for us as the season goes on."
While United are in rampant form going forward, Van Persie admits they must tighten up at the back after Rooney's own goal on Saturday left them trailing for the seventh time in 11 matches this season. It is a run that has already cost Alex Ferguson's side valuable points against Everton and Tottenham. "It has happened too often. We have to work on it because we can only do better," Van Persie said.
In other Champions League action, surprise group F leaders BATE Borisov entertain Valencia in Belarus. Viktor Goncharenko's men have six points from two matches after stunning Bayern Munich last time out, but their record against Spanish opposition is deplorable, having failed to claim a point in six attempts.
Lille's European dreams are hanging by a thread after consecutive defeats to start group F. It doesn't get any easier for Rudi Garcia's side as Bayern Munich - who set a new Bundesliga record last Saturday with their eighth straight win since the start of the season - make the trip to the Grand Stade Lille Metropole.
Spartak Moscow face a do-or-die battle with Portuguese giants Benfica after losing both of their group G matches so far. Spartak are bottom of the table after losing to Barcelona and Celtic by the same 3-2 scoreline.
"We have lost twice and now have no more space for retreat," Spartak boss Unai Emery said. "We must beat Benfica to keep alive our chances of continuing in Europe after the Champions League group stage."