Manchester United’s UEFA Champions League Group Stage

With the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League group stage draw having taken place, Manchester United will face Villareal, Atalanta and BSC Young Boys. Although there isn’t a classic European night under the lights at Old Trafford just yet, United have been drawn a very favourable group. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side are most definitely favourites to go through to the knockouts. The Norwegian will be hungry to take his side through after failing to qualify for last season’s knockout stage.  

Unai Emery’s Villareal

United faced Unai Emery’s Villareal in last seasons UEFA Europa League final, where they beat The Reds on penalties. The pairs previous four meetings in the Champions League group stage have all finished 0-0. United fans will most definitely want to be more entertained this time round. Villareal, nicknamed The Yellow Submarine, finished 7th in La Liga last season. On paper, a very winnable game however, Solskjær’s United have struggled on numerous occasions against teams that sit-back. Unai Emery’s men are expected to do nothing less. 

The Rise of Atalanta domestically and in the UEFA Champions League

Atalanta are a side that Manchester United have never faced. I Nerazzurri, translating to The Black and Blues finished 3rd in Serie A last season, ahead of Italian giants, Juventus. As a club, Atalanta adopted a great model, with manager, Gian Piero Gasperini turning them from a mid-table club to battling amongst Italy’s elite. The Italian side found hidden gems such as Franck Kessie, Alejandro Gomez and most recently, Cristian Romero. United’s own, Amad Diallo also came up through the ranks at Atalanta. These are players that Atalanta spent little-to-no money on and moved on for large fees, showing the incredible model that has taken them to where they currently are.

Gasperini’s side will put up a serious fight against United, just as they did in Serie A last season. Atalanta finished 2nd in Group D last season, facing Ajax and Liverpool. They were knocked out by Real Madrid in their Round of 16 tie, losing 4-1 on aggregate. 

BSC Young Boys

As well as Villareal and Atalanta, The Reds will also face 15-time Swiss champions, BSC Young Boys. Then, Jose Mourinho’s United and Young Boys did share the same group in the Champions League in 2018/19. United beat the Swiss club 1-0 at home and 3-0 away. With Solskjær’s United being favourites, former Huddersfield Town manager, David Wagner does have a decent home record vs The Reds. He lead Huddersfield Town to one win, one draw and two losses during their short Premier League stint. For Young Boys, the game is a free-hit, with the YB being dubbed as massive underdogs in Group F. 

Author: Aadam

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