Manchester United manager José Mourinho has labelled his side’s UEFA Champions League group “dangerous,” despite successfully avoiding fellow big guns in Thursday’s draw.
The Red Devils have been drawn into Group A alongside SL Benfica from pot 1, FC Basel from pot 3 and CSKA Moscow from pot 4 on their return among the European elite.
The Old-Trafford club’s last appearance in the coveted club competition came in the 2015/16 season where Louis van Gaal’s men humiliatingly crashed out in the group stages.
But supporters are certainly feeling confident about facing the Portuguese champions, Swiss champions and six-time Russian titleholders.
“It’s not going to be easy”
The UEFA Champions League was one of the topics discussed during Mourinho’s pre-Leicester City press conference on Friday afternoon where the Portuguese manager reminded reporters of United’s past failings against their upcoming opponents.
“If you go to the recent history, we couldn’t beat Benfica in two matches, we lost against Basel, I think also against CSKA Moscow the last time was 0-0 or 1-0 or something.” Mourinho continued by insisting he “knows the places” after facing each team in the past and understands the “dimension and quality” of the former from his FC Porto days.
Zlatan-less in the group stage
United will be without new-ish signing Zlatan Ibrahimović in the group stages while he continues his recovery from the anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered in April.
The big Swede is likely to feature in the latter stages of the competition though, if the team get there, after Mourinho confirmed that there is a place for him in the squad.
The campaign kicks off when FC Basel make the short trip to Old Trafford on September 12, before two consecutive away fixtures at CSKA Moscow and SL Benfica on September 27 and October 18 respectively.
The second half of clashes include a first visit St Jakob-Park in Switzerland since that dastardly night in 2011 sandwiched in between home games against Benfica and Moscow, where the Reds will be looking for a strong finish.