Who could Manchester United draw in the Champions League?
Manchester United are one of the eight clubs in Pot 1 and could potentially be drawn against Cristiano Ronaldo’s old club Sporting in the Champions League Last 16.
Manchester United will be one of the 16 clubs early awaiting the outcome of this afternoon’s Champions League Round of 16 draw in Nyon. Ralf Rangnick’s team are in Pot 1 with the top seeded clubs after finishing top of their qualifying group. There are six clubs which they could potentially be drawn against in the next round – including a couple of potentially enticing clashes such as a reunion between Cristiano Ronaldo and one of his old clubs or a rematch of the 1968 final – the first time United hoisted Ol' Big Ears.
Who could United face in the Round of 16?
Under the rules of the Round of 16 draw, United cannot be drawn against two of the teams in Pot 2 – Chelsea, as clubs from the same association cannot be paired at this stage of the competition and Villarreal, as they already met in the previous round.
Out of the six clubs they could face in the Last 16, there is only one club that United have never cross paths with in European competition – Red Bull Salzburg who ended runners-up in Group G behind Lille. Salzburg won all of their home fixtures in the group stage, beating Lille, Sevilla and Wolfsburg at the Red Bull Arena.
United could be drawn against Paris Saint-Germain, coached by Mauricio Pochettino – someone who has been heavily linked the managerial post at Old Trafford. PSG are undoubtedly the toughest team in Pot 2 and the one which everyone will want to avoid at this stage. However, the prospect of seeing Messi, Neymar, Mbappé and Cristiano Ronaldo out the pitch together would be a treat for many football lovers. The two clubs have met a couple of times previously – at the same stage in 2018/19, when United advanced to the quarter finals courtesy of Marcus Rashford’s stoppage-time spot-kick. They also met in the group stage last year – Solskjaer’s team beat PSG away but lost at home and finished third in Group H, to continue their European campaign in the Europa League.
Atlético Madrid is another posible rival in the next round. Diego Simeone’s team just scraped through their group on the final day, beating Porto away. Atleti and United have met before in Europe but a long time ago – in 1991, they faced each other in the Second Round of the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Atleti won 3-0 at the Calderón with the return leg ending level, Mark Hughes and Bernd Schuster on the scoresheet at Old Trafford.
Another of Europe’s classic clubs, Inter Milan, could stand in United’s path to the quarter finals. The Italians finished behind Real Madrid in Group D – their only defeats were to Ancelotti’s team during the group stage. Despite being two of continental football’s big names, they have only met twice before and not for a while. Their first encounter was in the 1998/9 edition – United advanced after winning the tie 3-1 on aggregate. More recently, they were drawn at the Last 16 stage and United once again progressed to the quarter finals.
Benfica are another possible rival for United. The Portuguese side emerged from Group E in which they were up against Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Dynamo Kiev. They have met numerous times at various stages of the tournament, most memorably in the 1968 final when United became the first English club to be crowned champions of Europe.
Finally, there is Sporting Clube – where Cristiano Ronaldo spent his early career before joining Sir Alex Ferguson’s United in 2003. The Portuguese outfit finished behind Ajax in Group C, winning three and losing three of their group games. If United are drawn against Sporting CP, it wouldn’t be the first time Ronaldo has been up against his former club – he had the pleasure of going back in 2007 and scored in both the home and away legs of their group game.
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