Friday 20 July 2018

Who will Man Utd face in play-off?

Wayne Rooney will lead United into the Champions League this year after a 12-month absence
Wayne Rooney will lead United into the Champions League this year after a 12-month absence

Manchester United will learn who they will take on in the Champions League play-off round on Friday.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the five opponents United could face.

Team: Club Brugge (Belgium)

Domestic finish: Second in Belgian league

Best performance in Champions League: Runner-up 1977/78

Route to play-off: Beat Panathinaikos 4-2 on aggregate in third qualifying round

Manager: Michel Preud'homme

Danger man: Obbi Oulare - 19-year-old striker reportedly scouted by United last season. Scored final goal in this week's 3-0 win over Pana.

Verdict: Probably the most favourable draw for United even though the aggregate win over Panathinaikos should not be sniffed at.

Team: CSKA Moscow (Russia)

Domestic finish: Runners-up in Russian league

Best performance in Champions League: Quarter-finals 2009/10)

Route to play-off: Beat Sparta Prague 5-4 on aggregate in third qualifying round

Manager: Leonid Slutsky

Danger man: Alan Dzagoev - a dangerous midfielder who has put the horrors of a massacre in his hometown of Beslan behind him to go on and become a star in Russia.

Verdict: Not the most dangerous of opponents, but United will be looking to avoid a long flight to Russia.

Team: Lazio (Italy)

Domestic finish: Third in Italian league

Best performance in Champions League: Quarter-finals 99/00

Route to play-off: Direct entry

Manager: Stefano Pioli

Danger man: Ravel Morrison - the former Manchester United youth product scored four goals in his first two games for Lazio in pre-season, but he is a doubt with an ankle problem.

Verdict: Another one United will be looking to avoid. Lazio may not be the force they once were, but the club - and their passionate fans - will be desperate to make the group stages after an eight-year absence from the competition.

Team: Monaco (France)

Domestic finish: Third in French league

Best performance in Champions League: Runners-up 2003/04

Route to play-off: Beat Young Boys 7-1 on aggregate in third qualifying round

Manager: Leonardo Jardim

Danger man: Stephan El Shaarawy - Swapped AC Milan for Monaco this summer. Scored a stunning solo effort on his home debut in the 4-0 win over Young Boys.

Verdict: Probably the most dangerous opponents in the draw. Monaco knocked Arsenal out last year en route to the quarter-finals and have an array of talent among their ranks.

Team: Rapid Vienna (Austria)

Domestic finish: Second in Austrian league

Best performance in Champions League: Semi-finalists 1960/61

Route to play-off: Beat Ajax 5-4 on aggregate in third qualifying round

Manager: Zoran Barisic

Danger man: Louis Schaub - 20-year-old attacking midfielder who scored twice in the shock 3-2 win over Ajax.

Verdict: Definitely the team United will be hoping to draw. Squad lacks experience and depth.

Press Association

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