Manchester United found out their rivals in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League. The Red Devils were drawn in Group H, together with Juventus, Valencia and Young Boys.
The teams Man United will face this autumn are not as easy as they could have been. United were handed Juventus, the perennial Italian champions and winners of four consecutive Italian doubles. Valencia are on the rise in the past 18 months, while the Swiss side Young Boys will be the outsiders in the quest of reaching the round of last 16.
What to say about Juventus that people do not already know? The Old Lady is Italy’s strongest side and after the last summer transfer window they are expect to stay on top of Serie A even longer. This will be the clash of two great sides that shared some incredible ties throughout the history, especially those in the 1990s.
It will also be a clash of players returning to their previous homes. Juventus’ biggest name Cristiano Ronaldo will be returning to Old Trafford once again, after visiting his former club as Real Madrid’s main man few years back. Also, Paul Pogba will play against his former team-mates. He reached the Champions League final in 2015 with the core of this team.
Juventus are favourites to win this group. Their team is very well balanced and it all feels like the Turin team will be throwing everything in order to finally win the famous trophy, for the first time since 1997.
The last campaign was a marvelous season for Valencia. Marcelino’s team started their LaLiga season with an imperious start, the best in their club’s history. For just over a quarter of a season, they looked like the only team that could challenge Barcelona for the Spanish title. However, that was highly unrealistic and in the end, Valencia finished fourth, qualifying for the Champions League for the first time after three years.
The club that played in consecutive Champions League finals at the turn of the century is now far from Europe’s best. Valencia brought in some interesting players this summer – Goncalo Guedes came from PSG on permanent deal, as well as Geoffrey Kondogbia. Michy Batshuayi joined on loan from Chelsea, while Daniel Wass improved the overall squad quality. They will be challenging for the second place in this group, trying to reach the round of 16 they have not been part of since spring of 2013.
Young Boys are definitely outsiders in this group. They won the Swiss championship for the first time after more than 15 years and last season only finished third in their Europa League group alongside Dynamo Kiev, Partizan and Skenderbeu.
Their coach Adolf Hutter left the club and took over Eintracht Frankfurt and it is hard to overstate how happy this side would be to finish third in such a tough group like this one.
Manchester United are expected to reach the round of 16. They are not better than Juventus, but are better and more experienced than Valencia. Finishing first or second in this group would be an equally great result, as the Champions League this season has a bigger number of high quality sides, and thus finishing first does not always mean an easier opponent in the next round.