Who can United face in the round of 16?

Thursday 25 November 2021 09:25

Manchester United are safely into the draw for the Champions League round of 16 and have already sealed top spot in Group F.

Although the final games will be played on 7/8 December, with the Reds at home to Young Boys, a picture is already emerging of which clubs we could be paired with when the ceremony takes place on Monday 13 December.

So what lies in store for the boys in the knockout stages, which begin in February 2022?

OUR POSSIBLE LAST-16 OPPONENTS

Group A = Paris Saint-Germain
Group B = FC Porto, AC Milan or Atletico Madrid
Group C = Sporting
Group D = Real Madrid or Inter Milan
Group E = Barcelona or Benfica
Group G = Lille, RB Salzburg, Sevilla or Wolfsburg
Group H = Juventus

Scroll down to read the state of play in each group ahead of matchday six.

THE STATE OF PLAY

In addition to United, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Manchester City have already won their groups and will, therefore, be in the same pot for the draw.

Chelsea and Juventus have already qualified, despite the Premier League leaders thumping the Serie A outfit 4-0 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night. The Blues finish at Zenit St Petersburg, needing to at least match Juve's result at home to Malmo to retain leadership of Group H and ensure the Old Lady are potential opponents for us.

Manchester City confirmed top spot in Group A with a 2-1 victory against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, and the French side will be one of the eight unseeded teams in the draw.

Porto, Atletico Madrid and AC Milan are vying to finish as runners-up to Liverpool in Group B. Porto currently sit second on five points and face Atletico, on four, at home on matchday six, while the Rossoneri, also with four points but with a goal-difference advantage, host Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Sporting will finish in second place in Group C. The Lisbon side beat Dortmund 3-1 on Wednesday, ensuring they cannot now be passed by the Germans due to their superior head-to-head record.

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Real Madrid and Internazionale will qualify from Group D after seeing off the challenges of Sheriff and Shakhtar Donetsk respectively, but the order of the top two will be decided in a fortnight's time, when the Italian champions travel to the Bernabeu. Simone Inzaghi's side must win to top the group, with Real just needing a point to confirm first position.

Barcelona or Benfica will emerge from Group E as potential rivals for United and the Catalans may be grateful Bayern Munich have already secured top spot and could have little to play for at the Allianz Arena on matchday six. As Benfica have the better of the head-to-head with Barca, victory against Dynamo Kiev would knock out the five-time winners if they fail to beat Bayern. However, the Bundesliga giants could seize the opportunity to help eliminate such a superpower, particularly with Robert Lewandowski, like Cristiano Ronaldo, aiming to score in every game in the 2021/22 competition.

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Obviously, United cannot meet Villarreal or Atalanta in the next stage, nor any of the English clubs. However, Group G will throw up possible opponents with everything wide open in that section.

Wolfsburg are currently bottom but will qualify if they can beat leaders Lille at home in their final fixture. French champions Lille need only a point from that game to progress but are out if they lose. RB Salzburg are in second place and need to avoid defeat at home to Sevilla in their match. Sevilla have to win to leapfrog the Austrians. 

The round-of-16 draw on 13 December is being staged in Nyon, Switzerland, at 11:00 GMT. It will be shown live on BT Sport in the UK. The group runners-up will be at home in the first leg of the ties, with the away-goals rule no longer counting.

Teams in bold are those we could face in the round of 16.

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