Manchester United’s Champions League group has been drawn.
Our initial reaction is that it could have been a lot harder. United will face Villarreal, Atalanta and Young Boys.
That said, of course there are positive and negative aspects to the draw and no team can be taken lightly.
Avoided a big hitter
The likes of Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid were lurking in Pot 1 and United have avoided them.
Last season, United came up against Paris Saint-Germain in the group stage.
Those were glamour ties, but the 2-0 home defeat to the French outfit on Matchday 5 was a real hammer blow.
Every tie in this group is winnable and it’s no bad thing if the blockbuster clashes have to wait for the knockout rounds.
Chance to show progress
Of course, Villarreal beat United in last season’s Europa League final. That’s why they were in Pot 1.
This draw provides an opportunity for United to show their improvement since that hugely disappointing night.
Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho have since been brought in and United are now expected to be a serious title challenger.
Beating Villarreal would banish some demons and provide tangible proof that United are a better side than they were last season.
Banana skins lie in wait
On the other hand, United know Villarreal will provide two tough matches and cannot be taken lightly at all.
Atalanta are a wildcard as well. They score goals for fun and won at Anfield in last season’s group stage.
They are not quite as dangerous as RB Leipzig were last season but it’s fair to say they have got a genuine chance of qualification.
Young Boys should finish bottom of the group but United dropped three crucial points against Istanbul Basaksehir last season, and they’re arguably an even weaker side than the Swiss outfit.
United need to be professional in all six matches to ensure progression and show lessons have been learned from last season.
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