Which countries' clubs have United faced most?

Tuesday 13 September 2022 13:55

There’s a huge dose of the unknown for Manchester United in this season’s Europa League group stage, with Moldova and Cyprus soon to become the 33rd and 34th UEFA nations we've faced clubs from.

That got us thinking: which countries have most regularly provided our opponents in European competition? 

Find out below, starting with a tie for 10th place...

Overall record: P12 W8 D2 L2 F38 A10
Teams faced: Anderlecht, Club Brugge
Most faced: Anderlecht (eight times)
First meeting: Anderlecht 0 United 2 | 12 September 1956 | European Cup preliminary round, first leg
Last meeting: United 5 Club Brugge 0 | 27 February 2020 | Europa League Round of 32, second leg
Highlights: How about a club-record win, in the Reds’ first-ever home European tie? The 10-0 obliteration of Anderlecht at Maine Road in 1956 remains our benchmark scoreline in any competition.
Star performers: United’s leading marksmen have thrived in these fixtures, with four of United’s 19 European hat-tricks coming against Belgian opposition. The tone was set in that 10-0 riot, when Tommy Taylor (three) and Dennis Viollet (four) vied for the matchball against Anderlecht, a feat repeated in 2000 by Andy Cole, before Wayne Rooney (right) hit his own treble at Club Brugge in 2015.
Highlights: United 5 Club Brugge 0 Video

Highlights: United 5 Club Brugge 0

Our convincing win over Brugge at Old Trafford in February will be shown at 19:00 BST tonight…

Overall record: P12 W9 D2 L1 F27 A6
Teams faced: Athinaikos, Olympiacos, Panathinaikos
Most faced: Olympiacos (six times)
First meeting: Athinaikos 0 United 0 | 18 September 1991 | European Cup Winners’ Cup first round, first leg
Last meeting: United 3 Olympiacos 0 | 19 March 2014 | Champions League second round, second leg
Highlights: There have been some hefty wins – 3-0 and 4-0 v Olympiacos and 5-0 v Panathinaikos, all at Old Trafford – but as a sheer spectacle, 2000’s 3-1 triumph over Pana in M16 was a thrilling affair, settled only at the death when Paul Scholes chipped in Sir Alex Ferguson’s favourite-ever United goal.
Star performers: Robin van Persie’s tie-swinging trio in 2014’s rousing win over Olympiacos at Old Trafford naturally stands out, but David De Gea’s virtuoso
performance that evening was just as important to the Reds’ Champions League progress.
Overall record: P13 W5 D7 L1 F17 A11
Teams faced: CSKA Moscow, Rostov, Rotor Volgograd, Torpedo Moscow, Zenit St Petersburg
Most faced: CSKA Moscow (six times)
First meeting: United 0 Torpedo Moscow 0 | 16 September 1992 | UEFA Cup first round, first leg
Last meeting: United 2 CSKA Moscow 1 | 5 December 2017 | Champions League group stage
Highlights: Peter Schmeichel’s last-gasp equaliser against Rotor Volgograd in 1995 was notable not only for the scorer’s identity, but also for preserving the Reds’ long unbeaten home run in Europe.
Star performers: The Reds’ 4-1 win at CSKA Moscow in 2017 stemmed from an outstanding display from Anthony Martial (left), who twice crossed for Romelu Lukaku to convert from close range, then slotted in a penalty of his own. For good measure, the Frenchman then saw his shot parried out for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to convert the rebound.
Overall record: P15 W10 D1 L4 F29 A12
Teams faced: Debreceni, Ferencvaros, Kispest Honved, Pecsi Munkas, Raba Vasas Eto, Videoton, Zalaegerszeg
Most faced: Ferencvaros (three times)
First meeting: United 3 Ferencvaros 2 | 31 May 1965 | Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, semi-final first leg
Last meeting: Debreceni 0 United 3 | 24 August 2005 | Champions League qualifying round, second leg
Highlights: Hungary provided the opposition when United returned to European action post-Heysel in 1990, as Pecsi Munkas were vanquished in the European Cup Winners’ Cup, and three years later Kispest Honved were the Reds’ first European Cup opponents since 1969 – an occasion marked by a Roy Keane brace!
Star performers: Gabriel Heinze augmented a clean sheet with two of his four goals for the club at Debreceni in 2005, a fortnight after the Ronaldo- Rooney-van Nistelrooy triumvirate (right) all scored in the home meeting at Old Trafford – the only time all three scored in the same game.
Overall record: P18 W9 D3 L6 F31 A17
Teams faced: Besiktas, Bursaspor, Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, Istanbul Basaksehir
Most faced: Fenerbahce and Galatasaray (six times)
First meeting: United 3 Galatasaray 3 | 20 October 1993 | Champions League second round, first leg
Last meeting: United 4 Istanbul Basaksehir 1 | 24 November 2020 | Champions League group stage
Highlights: A year on from an away-goals humbling in Turkey, a fresh-faced United crushed Galatasaray at Old Trafford, with one David Beckham notching his first senior goal (inset), while Wayne Rooney made an even better first impression with his incredible debut hat-trick against Fenerbahce.
Star performers: Peter Schmeichel was at his crowd-shushing best in the Reds’ return to the Ali Sami Yen in 1994, but none can top Rooney’s unbelievable debut hat-trick in 2004 – only the club’s second-ever first-outing treble.
Classic Match: 2017 Europa League final Video

Classic Match: 2017 Europa League final

Goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan secured our 2017 Europa League final victory over Ajax in Stockholm...

Overall record: P19 W10 D4 L5 F33 A14
Teams faced: Ajax, AZ Alkmaar, Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven, Willem II
Most faced: PSV Eindhoven (six times)
First meeting: Willem II 1 United 1 | 25 September 1963 | European Cup Winners’ Cup first round, first leg
Last meeting: United 4 AZ Alkmaar 0 | 12 December 2019 | Europa League group stage
Highlights: Top of the list has to be United’s win over Ajax in Stockholm five years ago (meaning we’d won every European trophy on offer at that time), with much love for 1963’s 6-1 demolition of Willem II in Manchester. Though for sheer tension, 2000’s late, hard-fought win over PSV Eindhoven is also well worthy of remembrance. 
Star performers: Andy Cole’s decisive hat-trick against Feyenoord on an ill-tempered night in Rotterdam and Denis Law’s own treble against Willem II are hard to top, but the Reds’ Europa League final win over Ajax in 2017 owed much to eye-catching displays from the oft-overlooked Matteo Darmian and Marouane Fellaini, who both executed their tactical jobs to perfection.
Overall record: P27 W18 D5 L4 F58 A32
Teams faced: Benfica, Boavista, Porto, Braga, Sporting Lisbon
Most faced: Benfica (11 times) 
First meeting: United 4 Sporting Lisbon 1 | 26 February 1964 | European Cup Winners’ Cup third round, first leg
Last meeting: United 2 Benfica 0 | 31 October 2017 | Champions League group stage
Highlights: In the current millennium, Cristiano Ronaldo’s 40-yard howitzer at Porto is 2009 is one of the Reds’ finest-ever goals, while 2012’s group-stage double over Braga was popcorn-chugging fare. Nothing can eclipse the 1960s showdowns with Benfica, however, when United stylishly inflicted the Eagles’ first home European defeat and, moreover, clinched a first European Cup success with an unforgettable 4-1 win at Wembley. 
Star performers: It’s all about El Beatle. George Best catapulted himself to superstardom with his virtuoso performance in the Reds’ 5-1 Lisbon rout and then, little more than two years later, prepared his Ballon d’Or acceptance with a starring role at Wembley on one of United’s greatest nights.
Highlights: PSG 1 United 2 Video

Highlights: PSG 1 United 2

In October 2020, we once again beat PSG in France, thanks to goals from Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford...

Overall record: P32 W17 D11 L4 F46 A22
Teams faced: Bordeaux, Lille, Monaco, Montpellier, Nantes, Lyon, Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain, Saint-Etienne, Strasbourg 
Most faced: Lille (six times)
First meeting: Strasbourg 0 United 5 | 12 May 1965 | Inter-Cities Fairs Cup fourth round, first leg
Last meeting: United 1 Paris St Germain 3 | 2 December 2020 | Champions League group stage
Highlights: The Reds’ maiden voyage to France delivered a 5-0 romp at Strasbourg, Ryan Giggs’s quickly taken free-kick at Lille standing as an example of quick thinking, but no games can top the drama and euphoria of Marcus Rashford’s last-gasp penalty winner at PSG in 2019. Magnifique.
Star performers: Rashford, scourge of the Parc des Princes, naturally warrants a mention, as does Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his hat-trick against Saint-Etienne, but Clayton Blackmore belongs in such esteemed company, having played in defence and midfield, scored a long-range free-kick, hit an upright and won a penalty during United’s vastly underrated win at Montpellier in the 1991 European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals. Great memories.
Overall record: P35 W18 D8 L9 F72 A40
Teams faced: ASK Vorwarts, Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Schalke, Stuttgart, Wolfsburg
Most faced: Bayern Munich (11 times). Die Roten have actually prevailed over the Reds in each of the sides’ three knockout ties (2001, 2010 and 2014), but that seems a small price to pay for United’s low-key, largely forgotten victory over Bayern in Barcelona in 1999.
First meeting: United 3 Borussia Dortmund 2 | 17 October 1956 | European Cup first round, first leg Last meeting: RB Leipzig 3 United 2 | 8 December 2020 | Champions League group stage
Highlights: Hmm. 26 May, 1999, anyone? Or just too obvious? Given that nothing can top winning an unprecedented Treble in injury time, it seems unfair to hone in too much on the Reds’ Camp Nou heroics against Bayern. Instead, attentions can turn to 1964’s 6-1 away-day annihilation of Borussia Dortmund, or United’s 5-0 group-stage stroll at Bayer Leverkusen in 2013. For short-lived joy with long-lasting memories, a barnstorming opening 40 minutes against Louis van Gaal’s Bayern Munich prompted a 3-0 lead before an away goals exit, while Patrice Evra’s unfathomable thunderbolt at Bayern Munich in the 2014 Champions League quarter-finals will be forever enshrined in brilliance.
Star performers: Bobby Charlton received a warm ovation from the generous home supporters upon bagging a hat-trick during United’s swatting of Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion, while David Herd also hit a treble at home to ASK Vorwarts just a year later. More recently, Wayne Rooney had a hand in four of the Reds’ five efforts at Leverkusen, and both Nani and Antonio Valencia were unplayable in 2010’s heartbreaker at Old Trafford against Bayern. David Beckham also deserves kudos for operating out of position in the 1999 final, but still managing to reach his usual high standard while playing a key role in both of United’s Treble-clinching goals.
Highlights: Atalanta 2 United 2 Video

Highlights: Atalanta 2 United 2

Enjoy the best action from a crazy match in Bergamo, plus those two majestic Ronaldo goals...

Overall record: P43 W21 D7 L15 F66 A52
Teams faced: AC Milan, Atalanta, Fiorentina, Internazionale, Juventus, Lazio, Roma.
Most faced: Juventus (14 times). Narrowly ahead of 12-time opponents AC Milan, Juve have locked horns with United more than any other non-British team. Turin’s Old Lady bossed the Reds early on, prevailing in knockout ties in 1976 and 1984 before providing an early Champions League benchmark, but thereafter the Reds have been on top, registering three eye-catching wins in Turin including, of course, 1999’s unparalleled comeback at the Stadio delle Alpi.
First meeting: United 2 AC Milan 1 | 8 May 1958 | European Cup semi-final, first leg
Last meeting: Atalanta 2 United 2 | 2 November 2021 | Champions League group stage
Highlights: Just three months after the Munich Air Disaster, Old Trafford served up one of its greatest atmospheres as Jimmy Murphy’s patched-up Marvels somehow established a European Cup semi-final, first leg win over the mighty AC Milan at Old Trafford. The Rossoneri prevailed after a thumping second-leg win, but that first instalment remains one of the Reds’ most heroic nights. Over four decades on, ground-shaking knockout wins over Internazionale and Juventus remain the stuff of folklore, as do 2007’s Old Trafford triumphs at the expense of Roma (7-1) and AC Milan (3-2). As recently as 2021, nerve-shredding wins over Roma and Atalanta continued a long line of thrilling meetings between United and Serie A’s finest.
Star performers: Cristiano Ronaldo took the headlines last term with late efforts home and away against Atalanta; Wayne Rooney was at arguably his peak in plundering four goals across two legs against Milan in 2010; and Ryan Giggs turned in a personal trio of entries: terrorising Juventus at Old Trafford in 1997 and in Turin five years later, before notching four assists in the 7-1 decimation of Roma. But for all that, would anyone argue with Roy Keane’s omnipresent shift at Juventus in 1999? Anyone?
Overall record: P67 W18 D25 L24 F79 A85
Teams faced: Athletic Club, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Celta Vigo, Deportivo La Coruna, Granada, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal
Most faced: Barcelona (13 times). The Catalans have been United’s most regular opponent in European finals, facing off with the Reds in the 1991 European Cup Winners’ Cup final in Rotterdam and, sigh, the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals, when Pep Guardiola’s side were at their peak – arguably the peak that any club side has reached – to prevail in Rome and London.
First meeting: Athletic Club 5 United 3 | 16 January 1957 | European Cup quarter-final, first leg
Last meeting: United 0 Real Sociedad 1 | 8 September 2022 | Champions League group stage
Highlights: The tone was set from United’s maiden continental tilt, when Athletic Club were overpowered across two legs in the 1957 European Cup by virtue of a stunning 3-0 second leg triumph at Maine Road. La Liga sides can point to an overall advantage over the Reds, but that hasn’t prevented a wealth of joyous experiences amassing in the Old Trafford history books. Real Madrid, European football’s benchmarks, were overcome in a thrilling semi-final tie in 1968 (1-0 at Old Trafford, 3-3 in the Bernabeu), plus 2003’s 4-3 win but aggregate exit on the night Brazil’s Ronaldo drew the applause of the home support. Los Blancos’ eternal rivals, Barcelona, may have fond memories of facing United, but they will also recall the body blows provided by Ron Atkinson’s Reds at Old Trafford in 1984 and Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2008 vintage in the Champions League semi-finals, not to mention 1999’s thrilling 3-3 draws in Catalonia and Manchester. Even last season, Cristiano Ronaldo’s last-gasp winner against Villarreal was able to provoke scenes of wild celebration, serving a reminder that, while finely balanced overall, United’s rivalry with Spanish sides always retains the capacity to thrill and surprise. 
Star performers: In advance of Barcelona’s 1984 visit to Old Trafford with a two-goal lead safely in the bag, Bryan Robson promised that he would turn the tie around for United. He duly delivered on his word, turning in one of the all-time great performances and capping his finest Reds display with two tie-changing goals. Just because he was chaired from the field on the shoulders of supporters, however, doesn’t mean there hasn’t been competition before and since. Tommy Taylor turned in one of his greatest outings with a tie-levelling goal before assisting Johnny Berry’s winner against Bilbao’s Athletic Club; two-goal Dwight Yorke took centre stage at the Nou Camp in 1999’s 3-3 draw; Roy Keane was at his pomp in downing Valencia later that year; and Ryan Giggs tormented Deportivo La Coruna home and away in 2002’s oft-overlooked 5-2 aggregate win. Elsewhere, Wes Brown and Rio Ferdinand were borderline perfect in shutting out Barcelona home and away in 2008, and Scott McTominay warrants mention for his fine performance in 2021’s Europa League disappointment against Villarreal, when he thoroughly deserved a winner’s medal.