Manchester United have been drawn against Valencia C.F., Rangers F.C. and Bursaspor in Group C in the UEFA Champions League Group Stage, which should be one of the toughest groups in the competition.
United were the first team picked out of Pot One, and placed in Group C, and followed by Valencia (Pot Two); Rangers (Pot Three) and Bursaspor (Pot Four).
United make a short trip to Scotland, set sail for Spain and then a tricky trip to Turkey in their Group C fixtures, which should test the strength of the squad.
Managed by Unai Emery, Valencia Club de Fútbol, which finished third in the La Liga last season, should prove to be United’s toughest opponents in Group C, but the Spanish club has lost two of their most important players from last year in this summer’s transfer window.
Valencia, who have yet to kick off their La Liga season, saw both David Villa Silva leave the cash-strapped club to join FC Barcelona and Manchester City, respectively, for a combined £57 million.
With that said, Los Che still have some quality players within their squad with Joaquín Sánchez and Juan Mata, the second-leading scorer from last season.
Joaquín was once tipped to be on Sir Alex Ferguson’s radar list while he was at Real Betis, but those rumors ended when he signed for Valencia in 2006.
Rangers is a club that both Sir Alex and United know very well, because Ibrox Stadium is approximately 215 miles away from Old Trafford.
The reigning Scottish champions are managed by former United No. 2, Walter Smith, and the two matches will surely offer a derby-type feel.
Kenny Miller, who scored a dramatic winner for Wolverhampton Wanderers against United in the 2003/04 season, will be The Gers biggest threat in front of goal as the 30-year old has already scored four goals in two Scottish Premier League matches this season.
The Turkish club is the club that very few United supporters will know much about, but they are the 2009/10 Süper Lig champions.
Bursaspor, who are managed by Ertugrul Saglam, can be compared to VfL Wolfsburg, because they won their country’s domestic league title over some of elite powers in Turkey – Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe.
United are familiar with Turkey as they played another one of Buraspor’s league-rivals, Besiktas, in last year’s group stage.
The 2011 final will be at the new Wembley Stadium in London, England on May 28th, which holds significant part in United’s history, because that is where they won their first European Cup back in 1968 (4-1 AET against S.L. Benfica).
Last season’s champions, Inter Milan, had a clean sweep of all of the awards with Júlio César (Goalkeeper of the Year), Maicon (Defender of the Year), Wesley Sneijder (Midfielder of the Year) and Diego Milito (Forward of the Year) with the latter taking home the UEFA Club Player of the Year award.
Manchester United has their work cutout for them if they are going to advance to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, but with the experience of their players they should progress.
Matchday 1 – 14/15 September
Matchday 2 – 28/29 September
Matchday 3 – 19/20 October
Matchday 4 – 2/3 November
Matchday 5 – 23/24 November
Matchday 6 – 7/8 December