The eight Champions League drop-outs Man Utd could face in Europa League play-off

Manchester United might be paired with one of Europe’s elite clubs in the knockout stages.
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Manchester United will compete in a two-legged play-off against a Champions League drop-out, in the next round of the Europa League.

The Red Devils’ 1-0 win against Real Sociedad on Thursday meant Erik ten Hag’s side finished second in the group and therefore won’t progress immediately to the last-16 of the Europa League.

In order to progress to that stage, United will need to eliminate a side who finished third in their Champions League group and therefore drop into Europe’s second tournament. But those eight sides include some with real European pedigree and the draw next week could set up a mouthwatering double header with the Red Devils.

Here are the clubs United could potentially face…

Ajax- The former side of Ten Hag, Lisandro Martinez and Antony, and also the club United beat in the 2017 Europa League in Sweden.

Ten Hag could face a quick return to Ajax. Credit: Getty.Ten Hag could face a quick return to Ajax. Credit: Getty.
Ten Hag could face a quick return to Ajax. Credit: Getty.

Bayer Leverkusen- Managed by former Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso, and are currently 16th in the Bundesliga.

Barcelona- What a heavyweight clash this would be against two sides who boast eight Champions League titles between them.

Sporting Lisbon- A meeting against the side from the Portuguese capital would result in Cristiano Ronaldo returning to his first club.

Ronaldo began his career in Lisbon. Credit: Getty.Ronaldo began his career in Lisbon. Credit: Getty.
Ronaldo began his career in Lisbon. Credit: Getty.

RB Salzburg- Finished third in a Champions League group with Real Madrid, AC Milan and Dinamo Zagreb. The Austrian side have won 10 of their 14 league games this season.

Shakhtar Donetsk- The Ukrainian club are playing their home European matches in Warsaw due to the ongoing war in their homeland. It’s a real sporting achievement for Shakhtar to make it to this stage given the horrific situation in Ukraine.

Sevilla- A side who have already been to Manchester this season to face United’s cross-city rivals. Alex Telles is currently on loan at Sevilla from the Red Devils, and Anthony Martial also went on loan to the Spanish side last term.

Juventus- Another club with real European pedigree, but Juventus lost five of their group games and were fortunate to even finish third.

The draw to determine which side United will face takes places on Monday. The games will take place on 16 and 23 February, with Ten Hag’s men playing the second leg at home.