Thursday 24 August 2017

United set for Champions League group stage draw

United will join five other British sides in Thursday's draw for the group stage of this season's Champions League.

The draw will take place in Monaco at 5pm following the completion of the two-legged play-off rounds.

Those ties included Liverpool's 6-3 win over Hoffenheim to ensure that five English teams will play in the group stage for the first time ever. 

Qualifying started as early as June, with the tournament now whittled down to the remaining 32 teams - with the draw consisting of eight groups of four. 

Having gained direct entry into this season's competition by virtue of winning the Europa League - despite a sixth placed Premier League finish last season - United will be in Pot Two.

Pot one contains the holders and league champions of the highest-ranked European countries, with the three remaining pots seeded according to UEFA's co-effiecent. 

That means that the Reds could be drawn against twelve-time winners and last season's winners Real Madrid, German giants Bayern Munich or Italian champions Juventus.

United's last foray into Europe's elite club competition ended in ignominy as the team failed to progress from one of the easiest-looking groups under Louis van Gaal in 2015-16.

We could only finish third in the section and dropped into the Europa League, where a swift and painful exit at the hands of Liverpool ended a failed campaign (moving on)...

However, this side look a different proposition now under Jose Mourinho, and - while going all the way will be a big ask - the boss is believed to have set a target of a run to the quarter-finals. 

UEFA rules prevent sides from the same country being drawn together at this stage, so United will not face Chelsea - who are in Pot One - or Spurs and Liverpool from Pot Three.

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City join United in Pot Two, with Celtic in the last group of sides having also qualified through a play-off.

The first round of matches will take place on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th September, with the group stage to be concluded on Matchday Six (5/6 December), before the knockouts begin in February. 

Pot One: Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Benfica, Monaco, Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk, Spartak Moscow
Pot Two: Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City, UNITED, Paris Saint-Germain, FC Porto, Sevilla
Pot Three: Anderlecht, Besiktas, FC Basel, Liverpool, Napoli, Olympiakos, AS Roma, Tottenham Hotspur 
Pot Four: APOEL Nicosia, Celtic, CSKA Moscow, Feyenoord, FK Qarabag, NK Maribor, RB Leipzig, Sporting Lisbon

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