By Andy Hyslop
- Manchester United confirmed return to Champions League with 7-1 win on aggregate against Club Brugge
- Manchester United will be in pot 2 for this afternoons draw
- Could face Barcelona or Bayern Munich
Manchester United and the European Cup go hand in hand. They were the first English club to compete in the competition and became the first English side to win the competition in 1968. After a year away United are back at Europe’s top table.
I’m sure it’s not just Manchester United supporters that are glad to see United back in Europe’s elite competition. After nineteen consecutive years in the competition, United and their fans had to endure a season away from the competition last season. When Louis Van Gaal first arrived at Old Trafford, his main aim for last season was to get United back into the Champions League.
Finishing fourth in the Premier League meant United had to come through a play-off, where despite being seeded they could have faced a difficult task to get into the group stages. Drawing Club Brugge was probably one of the easiest draws they could have faced. No disrespect to Brugge or the Belgium league but it isn’t the strongest, with the majority of their top players playing in Europe’s to leagues.
The draw for the group stages takes place in Monaco this afternoon, starting at 4:30pm. United will be in pot two alongside, fellow Premier League sides Arsenal and Manchester City. Also in pot two are Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, also a third Spanish team in Valencia and the Germans Bayer Leverkusen.
Many United fans will be looking at pot one who they could possibly be draw with. Chelsea are in pot one but United or any of the other English sides can’t be drawn against the Premier League champions.
The teams that United could face are Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Benfica, Paris St Germain, Juventus, Zenit St Petersburg or PSV Eindhoven. There are several connection between United and a number of these sides. In Barcelona and Bayern you have two teams that have been coached by Van Gaal. While drawing Bayern would also mean a return to the Allianz for Bastian Schweinsteiger. Coming up against Paris would mean a return to Old Trafford for Di Maria, and of the course the same would go for Juventus and Patrice Evra. While drawing PSV wold see Memphis coming up against the team that he helped win the Dutch title last season.
There may be some teams that United may want to avoid in pots three and four. In pot four, there is Wolfsburg, though they may be weakened by the proposed transfer of Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City. And in pot three there is Europa League winners Seville and Italian side Roma.
For a full run down of the draw and who’s in which pot visit the UEFA website.