Who will Manchester United face in their Champions League play-off?
By Peter Smith
Last Updated: 07/08/15 11:37am
Manchester United could be drawn to face Lazio or Monaco in Friday’s Champions League play-off.
Louis van Gaal’s side must come through a two-leg tie to reach the group phase after finishing fourth in the Premier League last season and, despite being top seeds, could be handed a tough test to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition proper.
Here’s a look at the team’s United could be drawn against, with the ties due to be played on 18/19 and 25/26 August.
It seems odd that Monaco, who knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League before eventually going down 1-0 on aggregate to finalists Juventus, have to face the rigours of a play-off, but such is the price Leonardo Jardim’s men must pay for finishing third in France’s top flight. They are just two games away from the group stages, though, after beating Young Boys 7-1 on aggregate in the third qualifying round.
Lazio booked their spot in the Champions League play-off draw with a final day victory over Napoli to finish third in Serie A. Fired by the World Cup’s all-time top scorer, Miroslav Klose, Lazio showed their quality in cup competitions last season by reaching the final of the Coppa Italia. Former Untied starlet Ravel Morrison could feature against his former club, should Lazio be drawn against Van Gaal’s men.
CSKA Moscow frustrated Manchester City home and away in the Champions League group stages last season, defeating Manuel Pellegrini’s side at the Etihad after holding them to a 2-2 in Russia. However, they ended up bottom of a tough pool and, domestically, finished runners-up to Zenit St Petersburg. They made the Champions League play-off phase by edging past Sparta Prague 5-4 on aggregate in the third qualifying round.
Rapid Vienna finished second behind Red Bull Salzburg in Austria’s top flight to qualify for the third qualifying round of the Champions League, where they stunned Dutch giants Ajax 5-4 on aggregate. Slovenia international Robert Beric is their key man – the 23 year old is one to watch after netting 27 in 33 appearances in the league last season.
Club Brugge finished top of the regular season table in Belgium, but finished runners-up to Gent in the play-offs, meaning they have to reach the Champions League group stages the tough way. A 4-2 aggregate win over Panathinaikos in the third qualifying round has got them this far.
The team's United can't face...
Manchester United are seeded in Friday’s draw along with Valencia, Sporting Lisbon, Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayer Leverkusen, meaning they can’t face any of those teams.
Tune in to Sky Sports News HQ or follow our live blog on skysports.com to see who Manchester United are drawn against on Friday morning.
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