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Who Manchester United could face in the Europa League

by David O'Neill

Manchester United’s failure to top their Europa League group means that they must now face a team dropping down from the Champions League in an additional knockout round.

The two-legged affair will take place in February, with the first tie played on the 16th and the second on the 23rd.

On Monday United will find out which team they will face in the round, with eight possible opponents.

A mouth-watering tie against Barcelona could be on the cards, which would arguably be the most difficult fixture available. One wonders how Erik ten Hag and Frenkie de Jong might say hello in that affair.

Paul Pogba could be in for an unwelcome return to Old Trafford should United draw Juventus in the next round.

Another reunion would occur should the Red Devils meet Ajax, with Erik ten Hag, Antony, and Lisandro Martinez all having made the switch in the summer.

Should Cristiano Ronaldo still be a Manchester United player in February, a tie with Sporting Lisbon could have a testimonial feel to it, as the legendary goalscorer winds down his career.

A match with Sevilla would allow Alex Telles to show his chops against United, with loan players facing no restrictions in featuring against their parent clubs in European competitions.

Bayer Leverkusen lost 5-0 the last time they met United and given their current Bundesliga struggles, they could perhaps be one of the easier teams to draw.

Meanwhile RB Salzburg would give fans a chance to see last summer’s transfer target Benjamin Sesko up close, although his impending move to RB Leipzig means that there is potential for regret there.

Shakhtar Donetsk would likely be a tie Erik ten Hag would hope to avoid, given that it would be by far the longest away trip – certainly a difficulty with the hectic schedule United will be facing at that point in the season.

While the Red Devils would ideally have wanted to avoid this round altogether, whoever they draw a spectacle awaits.

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