Manchester United have been drawn against SC Braga, Galatasaray and CFR Cluj in the group stage of the 2013 UEFA Champions League.
The Portuguese outfit, runners up in the 2011 Europa League, was a favourable draw for United as we avoided long trips to Russia and Ukraine with Zenit and Shakhtar Donetsk. Last season, Braga finished 3rd in Primeira Liga last season, 13 points behind champions Porto.
“Welcome to Hell”. United have drawn Turkish side Galatasaray. This is a far from easy draw. We may have avoided PSG and Juventus but Turkish atmospheres are like cauldrons. We have a young squad this year and a European away game like this will be a massive test for them, so it will certainly be an extremely tough fixture.
Romanian outfit CFR Cluj make up the group for United. This will be the third time that they have taken part in the Champions League.
In the grand scheme of things, the draw is favourable for United but it was in the 2012 competition and we crashed out at the group stages. We cannot let complacency strike again.
After a disappointing group stage exit last year, United will be looking to re-kindle their European fire this time around. In the four seasons prior to last year’s poor campaign, we had a fantastic record in Europe including three semi-finals, two finals and one Champions League trophy.
This years competition will be particularly tough in the group stages with United set to play six out of the top eight finishers from the Premier League last year before or after a Champions League game. It will be a real test of whether our squad has the depth and quality required to compete in multiple competitions.
The first round of fixtures will take place on 18/19 September and with an away fixture to Liverpool on the 23rd, it will certainly be a tough opener for us.