Manchester United are returning to the Champions League after a one-year absence and they have been drawn in Group A. They should feel good about their chances of making it through the groups after missing out on one of the more difficult first seeds. Jose Mourinho has proven himself to be a good manager in European competition and United will be looking to go far in the competition. Here is the lowdown on the three teams they will be playing in the group stage:
They were one of the easier teams from the first pot and Jose Mourinho will be happy that he avoided one of the better teams. He will know Benfica well and it will be a good occasion for him to return to his homeland. Early in his management career, he had a short stint at the Portuguese champions. Another link between the two clubs is that they signed Victor Lindelof from them this summer. Nemanja Matic is another that previously played for the Eagles.
The Portuguese club have won the league for the last four seasons. During the 2016/17 campaign, they managed to get through to the knockout rounds, but they lost to Dortmund in the round of 16 stage. Benfica have some talented players, but United should be confident of beating them twice.
The Swiss side are another team that United will feel confident of finishing above in Group A. They have won the last eight Swiss Super League titles, but they have offered little in European competition of late.
Last season, they were knocked out of the group stages and finished bottom of their group. This was the first time in ten years that the club didn’t play European football after Christmas. Oddly, United don’t have a good record against them, having won only once in four meetings.
It was a difficult path to the Champions League, as CSKA had to go through two qualifying rounds to reach the group stages. They beat AEK Athens and Young Boys on their route to this stage of the competition. Last season, they finished bottom of their group that consisted of Monaco, Bayer Leverkusen and Tottenham.
United will be pleased with avoiding one of the tougher fourth seeds and will be fancying their chances of beating the Russian club twice. They are unbeaten against CSKA, having won two and drawn two of their four meetings.
Verdict – Good draw
There is always a risk that the Champions League could go horrible for you, regardless of the pot you are in. Manchester United have had a very good draw, as they are easily the best team in their group. They were lucky to avoid one of the better first seeds and will believe that they could win all six matches. Although that is unlikely to happen, they should be able to qualify with relative ease.