The Red Devils made it through to the semi-finals last season only to be beaten by eventual winners Sevilla, and are among the favorites to win the trophy again come May, but Sociedad will likely provide a stern test of their credentials.
Goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan secured a 2-0 victory over Ajax in Stockholm on Wednesday night and earned more silverware for the club following victories in the EFL Cup and the Community Shield.
Mourinho’s first season in charge yielded only a sixth-place finish in the Premier League, but Wednesday night’s win secures a place in next season’s Champions League – and Mourinho insists the season must now be seen as a success.
However, it is now emerging that Olympique Lyon’s 7-1 drubbing of Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Wednesday could have been as a result of a betting scandal.
UEFA are said to be investigating the matter but intial reports have not shown any irregular betting patterns. In the other Group D fixture between Real Madrid and Ajax in Netherlands, the hosts saw two of their goals controversially ruled out raising fears that the matches had been fixed.
Europe’s premier footballing competition the Champions League resumes today with fixtures that could mark the end of the journey for 16 teams. All teams will be left with one group match after this round of fixtures however, many will not want to take any chances on their qualification to the next round.
Today’s fixtures include:
CSKA Moscow v Lille
Trabzonspor v Inter Milan
Otelul Gulati v Basel
Man U nited v Benfica
Real Madrid v Dynamo Zagreb
Lyon v Ajax
As Roma’s transfer strategy this season keeps moving on every direction as latest reports from Italy suggested that they are very keen in acquiring a new goal keeper and Ajax Amsterdam’s Maarten Stekelenburg has now become the strongest candidate for the capital team.
The Giallorossi’s interest towards the Dutch keeper has been confirmed by the Italian giant’s director, Walter Sabatini, adding that Gianluca Curci, the keeper who they just re-claimed from Sampdoria might be leaving the club.
“We’re excited to kick off our 2011 schedule of international games with one of the most honored teams in European soccer, Ajax of Amsterdam,” said United President and CEO Kevin Payne. “This match will be the first of several matches this season featuring top quality European opponents and we’re pleased that our season ticket holders will have the opportunity to attend each of these matches as a part of their package.”
Liverpool have finally agreed a fee of £22.8m with Ajax for Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez.
A statement on the Liverpool web site reads:
“Liverpool Football Club announced this afternoon that they had agreed a fee of up to 26.5million Euros with Ajax for the transfer of Luis Suarez, subject to the completion of a medical. The Club have now been given permission by Ajax to discuss personal terms with the player and his representatives.”
It was a long drawn out transfer as Liverpool have had to nearly double their original £12.7m offer in order to get Suarez.
AC Milan have finally signed Ajax winger Urby Emanuelson for around 1.7 million euros. With Gianluca Zambrotta injured and Luca Antonini inconsistent at left back, Milan needed some help on the left side of the park and the Dutch international will give them that. d in Massimiliano Allegri’s 4-3-3 formation.
Emanuelson was expected to head to Milan this summer on a Bosman free transfer this July, but the problems on the left forced Milan to make the move now.
A statement on the AC Milan web site confirmed the deal reading: