Manchester United will be back in the Champions League this season after a one-year absence provided they beat Belgian Pro League side Club Brugge in the qualifying round.
Louis van Gaal’s side are widely-expected to do so in the Champions League betting markets with no household names in the opposition squad and with the Premier League’s superior quality over the Belgian top flight that ranks ninth in UEFA’s coefficient (directly below Russia and Ukraine).
The Premier League side have upgraded their squad this summer too with the signings of Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin, Matteo Darmian and Bastian Schweinsteiger all arriving at Old Trafford.
Provided there is no upset in qualification, United would enter either the second or third group of seeds for the draw.
Regardless of what pot they’re in, both Benfica and PSV Eindhoven are amongst the first seeds so there’s a chance the Red Devils will draw a weaker side in their group and be amongst the two favourites to progress.
English sides have not fared too well in the Champions League over the past couple of seasons – the Premier League didn’t even have a single team in the quarter-finals last season.
United were quarter-finalists under David Moyes two seasons ago and Louis van Gaal has a team full of experience and quality to reach the knock-out rounds at least. Depending on the draw, they should be expecting at least a quarter-final appearance.
On paper, no Premier League side look capable of competing with Barcelona, whilst Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are also amongst the favourites. Most would have Chelsea as England’s best chance in Europe this season but United should not be written off entirely.
Wayne Rooney is a proven goalscorer up front in Europe, Juan Mata is one of the best number 10s in the world and they have a goalscoring threat down the left wing in Memphis Depay. He’s to prove himself in England and Europe this season.
Defensively, there is a big issue over David de Gea’s commitment this season, or whether he’ll even be at the club by the end of the summer. The same can be said of Víctor Valdés.
So would Sergio Romero be good enough to take them far in Europe? The only goal he conceded in the knock-out rounds of the World Cup last summer was from Mario Goetze in extra-time of the final.
The Argentine number one has been a backup for the past two seasons – firstly with AS Monaco and then with Sampdoria. Will he be at the top of his game immediately? It can be tough to tell with goalkeepers and South American’s are unpredictable enough as we know.
2015-16 is a season of optimism for Manchester United – lots of exciting signings that makes them pre-season contenders for the Premier League title, and return to play amongst the best teams in Europe in the Champions League.
There’s a lot of depth in this United team now, if the defence and goalkeeper holds up – how far do you think United will go in the Premier League and Europe?
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