United now have four tough new Europa League rivals in 2020

Manchester United have already qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League and have the chance to seal top spot tomorrow night.

With one night of Champions League matches remaining, there are already some potentially interesting opponents awaiting in the knockout stages for United.

United’s run into Europe’s secondary competition could see them encounter a former player and a transfer target, among others. So who could lie in wait?

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Inter Milan

Antonio Conte’s side had their fate in their own hands last night but failed to beat a weakened Barcelona side at San Siro, going down 2-1.


A victory would have taken the Italians into the knockout round of the Champions League but Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez now join United in the Europa League.

Lukaku will be keen to show what United what they’re missing, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must prove his side is better without the Belgian.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Sanchez can play against the club which owns him.

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RB Salzburg

Erling Haaland had chances to fire the Austrians into the last 16 of the Champions League at the expense of Liverpool last night but fluffed his lines.

That could well put him on a collision course with United, whom he has been roundly linked with in recent months.

Perhaps Salzburg’s elimination will speed up Haaland’s departure and there’s even an outside chance he’ll be a United player by the time the Europa League returns in 2020.

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Best of the rest

Edwin van der Sar was a key part of building the Ajax side who came within a whisker of last season’s final, and has been talked about in relation to a behind-the-scenes role at Old Trafford.

The Dutch side were eliminated last night after failing to beat Valencia at home, as they struggle to deal with the loss of Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt.

Benfica will also be in the Europa League, raising the prospect of Victor Lindelof facing his former employers.

Highly-rated defender Ruben Dias also represents the Portuguese outfit, and may be worth a look up-close if United are drawn against Benfica.

Four more teams will drop out of the Champions League tonight, either Club Brugge or Galatasaray; Red Star Belgrade or Olympiakos; Dinamo Zagreb, Shakhtar, or Atalanta; and Bayer Leverkusen or Lokomotiv Moscow.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.