In a welcome distraction from disappointing Premier League form, Manchester United discovered their upcoming European opponents on Thursday evening following the draw for the Champions League’s Group Stage.
The Red Devils find themselves in a tricky group – Valencia are a decent side, Young Boys could throw a few surprises and Juventus have made two of the last four finals – which begs one obvious question: where will United finish in Group H?
Football FanCast’s expert writers give their verdicts below…
“Jose Mourinho is making all the headlines (when doesn’t he?!) and it would be no surprise if he were to be out of job before the Champions League campaign reaches the knockout stages, but Manchester United must not be underestimated. Of course, at the moment they are no great threat and their key players are yet to find their stride. However, the problem is not so much the individuals but mainly Mourinho’s management of them. At the end of the day, they are professional footballers and they are capable of making it through the group, but it could go down to the wire.”
“The return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford will of course be the big talking point of Group H, and you wouldn’t bet against the Portuguese superstar tearing the Red Devils’ ailing defence to shreds if given half the chance.
“The Italian giants will top the group, but United should prevail as runners up. However, Valencia could easily prove to be this year’s Sevilla and bring about a group stage exit for the English club. That would surely mean curtains for Mourinho.”
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“We can all feel it; the Mourinho meltdown is nearly upon us. There’s no doubt the Portuguese manager was one of the best in the business, but he’s completely lost his way at Old Trafford. I just can’t see them getting any points from the two fixtures against Juventus, who boast a deep squad where every single player is comfortable in the system. That said, the Red Devils will have to get a result away at Valencia, where the Spaniards are very strong.”
“Man United may have come unstuck in the Premier League thus far this season, but they will still make it through what looks to be a difficult Champions League group on paper. Juventus are the certainties to qualify and while others may fancy Valencia as well, they don’t have the quality or consistency to finish above United.”
“At this early stage of the season, Manchester United are already in damage limitation mode under Mourinho and the damage could increase significantly in the Champions League – where both Juventus and Valencia will fancy their chances. If he stays, Europa League football is likely. However, if United bite the bullet and offload ‘The Special Once’ then they should sneak through.”