COULD WE FACE NEW OPPONENTS?
Getafe, Borussia Monchengladbach, Rennes, FC Olexandriya, Standard Liege, Wolfsberger AC and FC Lugano would all be a new experience for United. Borussia Monchengladbach were European heavyweights in the 1970s, winning this competition (then the UEFA Cup) twice, in 1975 and 1979, and they reached the European Cup/Champions League final in 1977, losing 3-1 to Liverpool. But, despite their impressive historical exploits, they are absent from the list of seven German clubs that we’ve met in Europe. Standard Liege, Rennes and FC Lugano are other well known continental clubs that we’ve thus far avoided, despite their involvement in European football dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. Getafe, FC Olexandriya and Wolfsberger AC are all relative newcomers, having only competed in European football in the 21st century. However, the list of potential new opponents is likely to swell considerably once we know the identity of the other 31 teams who will make up the rest of the group-stage phase.
THE LAST TIME
The last time United competed in the Europe League was, of course, in 2016/17, when we became only the fifth club in history to have won all three major European trophies, by beating Ajax 2-0 in Solna, just north of Stockholm. It also meant that United had finally completed the set of all major trophies available to them. On the way to the final in Sweden, we faced Feyenoord, Zorya Luhansk, Fenerbahce, Saint-Etienne, Rostov, Anderlecht and Celta Vigo. During the group stage, we won four games and lost twice.