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With the Champions League qualification rounds now under way, it is worth noting that Manchester United are under a month away from knowing our opponents in this season’s group stages.
The draw for the 2021/22 groups takes places on Thursday 26 August at 17:00 BST, from Istanbul in Turkey.
United secured a place in this season’s competition for the 25th time in its 30-year Champions League history by finishing second in the Premier League last term on 74 points.
Qualification so far
Celtic are the most notable side to have crashed out of qualifying, so far. The Scottish side lost 3-2 after two legs to Danish champions Midtjylland on Tuesday night.
Turkish outfit Galatasaray also exited at the second round of qualifying by suffering a 7-2 aggregate defeat to PSV Eindhoven. England Under-21s forward Noni Madueke netted in the 2-1 away win for PSV on Wednesday evening.
Rangers face off against Swedish champions Malmo on Tuesday evening as they enter at the third qualifying round. The Gers are looking to make the group stages for the first time since the 2010/11 season, a section they occupied with the Reds, Bursaspor and Valencia.
Who has already qualified?
The Reds will join English clubs Manchester City, holders Chelsea and Liverpool in the competition. From Spain, there are currently five contenders in Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Villarreal.
Germany boast four sides, including 2020 winners Bayern Munich, as well as Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Wolfsburg. Serie A also has four competitors joining at the group stage too with champions Internazionale joining AC Milan, Atalanta and Juventus.
French title-winners Lille will join 2020 finalists Paris Saint-Germain with Sporting and Porto also already through from Portugal. Zenit St Petersburg, Club Brugge, Dynamo Kiev, Ajax and Besiktas make up the final five qualifiers due to their domestic successes last season.
United’s European hopes
Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s side will be hoping to better our last performance in Europe’s elite club competition, following the exit from a tough group, although we did go all the way to the final of the Europa League, only to lose on penalties to Villarreal.
With recent addition Jadon Sancho already experienced in the competition with ex-club Borussia Dortmund, as well as prospective signing Raphael Varane boasting four winners’ medals with Real Madrid, the Reds will be hoping to make this term’s European journey one to remember once again.
This year’s final will be played at the Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg and will mark the first time the final has been played in Russia since United’s famous 2008 penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea, the club’s last Champions League success.
Third-qualifying round ties
PSV Eindhoven v Midtjylland
Genk v Shakhtar Donetsk
Sparta Prague v Monaco
Spartak Moscow v Benfica
CFR Cluj v Young Boys
Olympiacos v Ludogorets
Red Star Belgrade v Sheriff
Malmo v Rangers
Dinamo Zagreb v Legia Warsaw
Ferencvaros v Slavia Prague