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The Big Teams That Manchester United Could Face In The Europa League

Harry Greenwood

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The Big Teams That Manchester United Could Face In The Europa League

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

With Manchester United narrowly missing out on qualification for the 22/23 Champions League competition, the Europa League will provide new head coach, Erik ten Hag an opportunity to achieve European silverware in his first season at the club.

Following the disappointment of the previous campaign, United will be hoping to find increased success as they head towards the new season, with new boss Erik ten Hag already beginning to mould the squad in his image.

The Europa League will provide an opportunity for ten Hag to demonstrate his prowess as a top class coach, with this providing a precursor to future Champions League campaigns under the Dutchman.

While there are still play off rounds to be played before the full line-up of teams in the competition's group stages is finalised, a number of big teams are confirmed for the competition.

This is even before the drop down of teams from the Champions League later in the tournament.

The Reds will be confident of a strong performance in the competition, but a number of these teams could prove to be stubborn obstacles.

Arsenal

A fixture that invokes a historic rivalry from both teams, a potential knockout game between the two English heavyweights could prove to be a highly charged tie. 

Having finished fifth in the Premier League, Arsenal will be equally disappointed after missing out on Champions League football for next season after a capitulation in the final run-in of the season.

This will lead them to be equally as determined to secure the trophy come the end of the tournament, with a guaranteed spot in Europe's elite for the next year adding to the reward of glory awaiting the winners of the tournament.

Manchester United against Arsenal last season. (Alamy)
Manchester United against Arsenal last season. (Alamy)

With any potential European match between the two coming after they would have faced each other in the Premier League at least once, a better insight will be able to be provided closer to the time.

With both teams winning their home ties in this PL fixture last season, there is no clear evidence of a large disparity currently between the teams.

Roma

Qualifying through the new Europa Conference League, Italian side Roma could pose an intriguing fixture for Manchester United, following the unceremonious departure of Roma head coach Jose Mourinho from the Reds in 2018.

The subsequent animosity between the Portuguese manager and United would add to the occasion of the fixture, with both sides eager to prove that they benefited more from the split between coach and club.

Apart from Mourinho, a tie with Roma would also see the return of former United players, Chris Smalling and Henrik Mkhitaryan.

While both were tipped to excel at Old Trafford, neither were able to provide the performances that matched expectations.

In addition, it appears Nemanja Matic will be signing with Roma following his departure from Old Trafford after the expiration of his contract.

Roma have three ex-Reds in their ranks. (Alamy)
Roma have three ex-Reds in their ranks. (Alamy)

While historically Roma have been a huge side in Italy, they have struggled in recent years, with sixth, seventh and fifth placed finishes in Serie A over the last three years.

Roma’s decline in recent years will give United hope that a tie against the Italian side will favour them but as is often the case in European football, it would undoubtedly be a tough occasion for the Reds.

Edinson Cavani scored against Roma in 2020/21. (Alamy)
Edinson Cavani scored against Roma in 2020/21. (Alamy)

Real Betis

While Real Betis don’t command the same reputation as Arsenal or Roma, their rise up La Liga in the past two years under the reign of former Manchester City and West Ham coach, Manuel Pellegrini shows their talent as a team. 

Having never played one another in a competitive fixture, a match between the two teams would be an intriguing prospect.

The Spanish side qualified for the competitions through winning the Copa Del Rey, Spain’s premier domestic knockout trophy. This shows their prowess as a tournament team, meaning a fixture against Betis will be far from a simple task for United, should the two teams meet.

Nabil Fekir would be the Betis player to watch in any such fixture, with the French attacking midfielder having a reputation for skill and intricate play. Four goal contributions in last season’s Europa League across seven appearances gives a clear image of Fekir’s threat towards the opposition defence.

Nabil Fekir of Real Betis
Nabil Fekir of Real Betis

Betis were knocked out of the previous competition by eventual winner Eintracht Frankfurt in the round-of-16, following a 3-2 defeat on aggregate.

It has also been rumoured that Juan Mata may sign for Betis following his departure from Old Trafford, with this adding a further exciting dimension to the match should the Spaniard indeed feature.

Real Betis would ultimately be a challenge should United face the Spanish team at any point in the tournament, but a challenge United should be confident in overcoming.

Nabil Fekir of Real Betis. (Alamy)
Nabil Fekir of Real Betis. (Alamy)

These are just three of the teams Manchester United could find themselves up against in the 2022/23 Europa League, with the final list of confirmed teams yet to be finalised.

The draw to determine the group stages takes place on the 26th of August, with the tournament’s group stages starting 7th of November.

Manchester United will be hoping for a solid campaign and a push to achieve European silverware from this tournament, progressing to Europe's elite for the 2023/24 season.



Topics: Manchester United, Football, Europa League, Arsenal, Real Betis

Harry Greenwood
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