Manchester United’s return to the Champions League has seen them handed a kind draw after they were grouped with Benfica, Basle and CSKA Moscow.
The Red Devils were absent from Europe’s premier club competition last season but are back after winning the Europa League, and have avoided all or European football’s powerhouses on their return.
Having avoided European heavyweights Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid from pot one, Mourinho’s men will be happy with their draw to face Benfica. The Lisbon-based club won their domestic league by six points last season, taking their tally to 36 titles in all and top the fledgling table with three wins from three.
They were knocked out of last season’s Champions League at the last 16 stage by Borussia Dortmund, losing 5-0 on aggregate, and have two European Cups to their name having lifted the famous trophy twice in the 1960s.
Key player – Konstantinos Mitroglou
The Greek striker, who failed to hit the heights during his time at Fulham, scored 26 goals for the Portuguese side last season, leading their scoring charts. He scored 20 league goals the previous season in an impressive start to life in Portugal.
Danger rating – 6/10
Things could have been a lot worse for United, but the Portuguese side will still pose a threat.
Another champion for United to face, after Basle ran away with the Swiss Super League by a mammoth 17 points to claim their 20th title. They’ve made a strong start to this season, too, with four wins from four games.
They exited last season’s tournament in the group stage after failing to register a win in their six games, in a pool won by Arsenal as Paris Saint-Germain came in second.
Key player – Ricky van Wolfswinkel
The Dutch striker, an expensive flop in English football with Norwich, has been prolific in his opening month as a Basel player, having scored four goals in four games since his arrival from Vitesse Arnhem.
His return to Holland saw him find his feet and has proved he can still be a goal-scoring threat.
Danger rating – 5/10
Another friendly draw for the Red Devils, as they avoided tough games with Roma and Napoli from pot three while also staying clear of hostile trips to the likes of Besiktas and Olympiacos.
CSKA finished second in the Russian Premier League last season, seven points behind champions Spartak Moscow. But they will provide United with a stern test, given the long journey, potentially tough winter conditions and a ‘hybrid’ artificial pitch all providing their own challenges. They’ve won four of their seven games at the start of their league season.
Key player – Alan Dzagoev
The flying Russian has been linked with a potential move to the Premier League in the past, with his direct running capable of testing any defence. He has been a mainstay of the CSKA side for nearly a decade and has 51 international caps.
Danger rating – 5/10
Perhaps a little tougher than their other opponents when it comes to the away game but, again, Mourinho will be happy with this draw.
Manchester United Champions League Fixures
- September 12: Manchester Utd vs Basle. – Buy Champions League Tickets
- September 27: CSKA Moscow vs Manchester Utd. – Buy Champions League Tickets
- October 18: Benfica vs Manchester Utd. – Buy Champions League Tickets
- October 31: Manchester Utd vs Benfica. – Buy Champions League Tickets
- November 22: Basle vs Manchester Utd. – Buy Champions League Tickets
- December 5: Manchester Utd vs CSKA Moscow. – Buy Champions League Tickets