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Monaco or Fenerbache? Who Man United could face in the Champions League qualifier

Louis van Gaal’s side have confirmed their place in the Champions League but they could face a tricky qualifying tie first.

Champions League football is returning to Old Trafford next season.
Champions League football is returning to Old Trafford next season.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

MANCHESTER UNITED WERE assured of a return to the top table of European football at the weekend when Liverpool’s top four race ended with defeat to Crystal Palace.

If, as expected, Louis van Gaal’s side finish in fourth place, they will need to negotiate a two-legged qualifying play-off round to earn a place in the Champions League main draw.

Uefa last week announced they were radically changing the seedings system for next season’s competition but before United fans can start renewing their passports, brushing up on their Spanish and booking flights to all corners of the continent, there will be a nervous wait to discover who stands between them and the group stages.

As Europe’s top leagues begin to wind down, the picture has become somewhat clearer for United as they await the draw on Friday 7 August, a week before the new Premier League season begins.

Although they weren’t involved in any European competition last year, the club’s performances over the years mean they are likely to be seeded in the draw as one of the five highest ranked side’s in the governing body’s coefficient system.

The Red Devils would enter the qualifying stage at the final round which is split up into the ‘champions’ and ‘league’ route. United would be in the latter given they didn’t win their domestic title.

They would be joined in the pot by the fourth-placed teams from La Liga and the Bundesliga, the third-placed sides from Italy and Portugal as well as the five ‘league’ route winners from the previous round of qualifying.

Fortunately, their seeding should see them avoid a tough tie against Valencia or Sevilla and Champions League regulars such as Napoli and Shahktar Donetsk.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Third Qualifying Round - First Leg - Dinamo Bucharest v Manchester United United saw off Dinamo Bucharest 5-1 on aggregate in 2004 Source: Mike Egerton

It will be the fifth time United have had to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition having played LKS Lodz in 1998, Zalagerszeg four years later, Dinamo Bucharest in 2004 and Debrecen twelve months after that.

As it stands, here are the teams United could* be draw alongside when Gianni Infantino does his stuff in Nyon:

*Uefa have yet to confirm the coefficients but it’s presumed United will be in the seeded pot alongside the qualifiers from Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal and won’t be able to face them.

Spain

  • Valencia or Sevilla

Just one point separates the two sides heading into the final game of the season.

Italy

  • Napoli

Germany

  • Bayer Leverkusen

Portugal

  • Sporting Lisbon

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group G - Chelsea v Sporting Lisbon - Stamford Bridge Sporting were in Chelsea's group last year and would be one of the tougher draws Source: EMPICS Sport

France

  • Monaco or Marseille

Monaco are two points clear in third with just a game remaining and are in pole position to advance to the play-off round with Marseille likely to have to settle for a place in the Europa League.

Holland

  • Ajax

Russia

  • CSKA Moscow or Krasnodar

Both sides are level on points and vying for second place with a couple of matches to go.

Ukraine

  • Shakhtar Donetsk

Turkey

  • Fenerbache

Plus, United could face the runners-up from Belgium (Gent), Greece (Panathinaikos), Austria (Rapid Vienna) or Czech Republic (Sparta Prague) depending on if they get through the third qualifying round.

The draw takes place on 7 August with the first legs to be played on 18 and 19 of August and the second legs taking place a week later.

United fans, who would you like to avoid from the above sides or do you fancy your chances of a safe passage through regardless of the opposition?

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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