This year last time and even much later than that into 2019, Manchester United fans did not really think their team will be able to reach the Champions League, but in the end, a third placed finish was more than enough for the Devils to be among 32 of the best teams in Europe. Today, it was the time for group stage draw, in which Man United learned their rivals.
Man United ended up in Group H, alongside Paris Saint-Germain from Pot 1, RB Leipzig from Pot 3 and Istanbul Basaksehir from Pot 4. That in itself is not the easiest group, with the last season’s Champions League finalists and semifinalists in the same group. But let’s see what we should know about the teams Man United will face this autumn.
Paris Saint-Germain – We Meet Again
Manchester United played against Paris Saint-Germain in that well-documented Round of 16 in early 2019 and it was then that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shocked the French side, basically earning his job at Old Trafford right afterwards. Man United managed to get past PSG despite a two-goal deficit and they even did so with quite a weakened side in the middle of Parc des Princes in Paris. This time around, PSG will be a different side.
They were already a much improved side in 2020, when they were close to winning the Champions League altogether. Bayern Munich edged them in the final, but with a motivated Neymar and the constantly brilliant Kylian Mbappe, they are a force to be reckoned with. Thomas Tuchel’s side actually did not start the new season in a strong manner, but that was to be expected after a long campaign and disappointing end to it. Usually, PSG are an even better side in the early months of the season, when the stakes are not that high. Man United could have a lot of issues if they show up highly motivated.
RB Leipzig – Julian Nagelsmann’s Youthful Danger
Julian Nagelsmann maybe just turned 33 this summer, but he is already one of the best coaches around, working with a youthful RB Leipzig side, constantly improving them. Despite not having big-name stars in his squad, he managed to get to Champions League semifinals playing a modern style of football, with a high pressing rhythm, often lining up in a fluid 3-4-3 system which is constantly asking questions to their opponents. Just ask Tottenham Hotspur and Jose Mourinho if you do not believe us.
They will not be troubled coming to Old Trafford and still playing their football, despite not having Timo Werner anymore.
Istanbul Basaksehir – Champions Of Turkey
The side that we know the least about, but they are for the first time champions of Turkey and they will want to impress everyone. They do not have big name stars either, but compared to other Turkish clubs, they do not like signing ageing players with big salaries, but rather keep their squad more balanced.
Last season they reached Round of 16 in the Europa League, before losing to Copenhagen, the side Man United defeated in the next round. This should be the side where Man United should not be losing points.