Thursday 27 August 2015

United await European fate

Having sealed a return to the Champions League group stage with a 7-1 defeat of Brugge in the two-legged play-off, United are in Pot 2 for Thursday's draw.

Why Pot 2 I hear you ask: well, in a change from previous seasons, pot one will be made up of holders Barcelona plus the champions of the top seven European leagues (Germany, Portugal, France, England, Russia, France and Spain)- rather than being based on UEFA club co-efficient.

As Barcelona are the currents holders of both La Liga and the Champions League, Dutch champions PSV- Memphis Depay's old club- go into pot one as the eighth-ranked association.

So what does this mean for United: well, a potential "Group of Death" match-up with Barcelona, Lyon and Bundesliga side Wolfsburg whilst the best case scenario would be Zenit, Shakhtar Donetsk and Gent.

The team we'll want to avoid is FC Astana (they're in Pot 4)- a nine-hour flight away on the Kazakh/ Chinese border. 
No thank you!
Other potential dangers who made it through are Europa League winners Sevilla, Roma, the aforementioned Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow. 

United manager Louis van Gaal is set to give the draw a miss, and instead intends to watch the club's second string in a Carrington friendly against Ajax as he ponders his selection options.

"I think I shall watch the second team against Ajax because that is more important and I cannot do anything to impact the draw" LVG said.

Also in Pot 2  with United are Premier League rivals Arsenal and Manchester City alongside Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Porto, Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen.

Spain are once again the dominant nation in the draw- with their top four sides- Barcelona, Real, Atletico and Valencia- plus Europa League winners Sevilla, all amongst the 32 teams. 

Whatever the draw throws up, it's a great feeling to be back involved in the continental pinnacle and a new chapter in the club's history ready to be written as Louis van Gaal embarks on his first European campaign in charge of United.

Pot One: Barcelona (Spain), Bayern Munich (Germany), Benfica (Portugal), Chelsea (England), Juventus (Italy), PSG (France), Zenit (Russia), PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands)
Pot Two: Arsenal (England), Atletico Madrid (Spain), Bayer Leverkusen (Germany), Manchester City (England), UNITED (England), Real Madrid (Spain), Porto (Portugal), Valencia (Spain)
Pot Three: CSKA Moscow (Russia), Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine), Lyon (France), Olympiakos (Greece), Galatasaray (Turkey), Roma (Italy), Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine), Sevilla (Spain)
Pot Four: FC Astana (Kazakhstan), BATE Borisov (Belarus), Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany), Wolfsburg (Germany), Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia), Maccabi Tel-Aviv (Israel), Gent (Belgium), Malmo (Sweden). 

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