Updated: Monday, 16th September 2019 @ 5:20pm

Michael Carrick declares 'pressure is off' in Champions League as Manchester United chase knockout stage place

Michael Carrick declares 'pressure is off' in Champions League as Manchester United chase knockout stage place

By Dean Wilkins

Michael Carrick is hungry for Manchester United to use their winning league form to seal their journey into the Champions League knockout stage.

United won their opening two fixtures against Galatasaray and CFR Cluj and take on Portuguese outfit FC Braga at Old Trafford tomorrow.

With back-to-back league and cup wins under their belt, England midfielder Carrick is hoping to help Sir Alex Ferguson’s men expel last season’s European woes and confirm their place in the last 16 to make life easier in the Premier League.

"It helps the league form if you can get through early," said the 31-year-old.

"The manager can change things around, he can rest players, he can use the squad and give players game time.

"The pressure is off. He can start planning ahead knowing the next stage is already secure.

"It is not always possible. Sometimes it can go down to the last game, which in itself is not always a bad thing but overall, it is better to get it done and dusted."

Braga have one win and one loss from their first two ties in Europe’s elite competition, and also boast a run of five unbeaten clashes against English opposition.

But Carrick is aware of the curveballs the Champions League can throw up and after being dumped out at the hands of Basel last year, United are eager to make no mistakes.

"It can be quite tough to judge in the Champions League," he added. "It isn't necessarily the teams that catch your eye who are the ones that cause you problems.

"You have to respect them for getting to this stage.

"It is not easy in any league to go through the whole season near the top. They are going to be of a certain standard and we have to match it."

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