Yesterday, Liverpool’s draw at Stamford Bridge essentially guaranteed Champions League football for Louis Van Gaal’s men next season.
However, fourth spot means there is one more hurdle to overcome as The Red Devils will have to win a two legged play off in August. But who could they potentially face?
United would be joined by the fourth-placed teams from La Liga and the Bundesliga and the third-placed teams from Italy and Portugal. There will also be a number of other reasonably big names from 2nd and 3rd place finishes in some lower leagues who will go into the previous qualifying round.
Most of Europe’s top leagues are still ongoing, but at this point one can narrow down their potential opponents with reasonable accuracy.
United’s seeding should mean they avoid Spain’s play-off entrant, along with Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen and Shahktar Donetsk, should they qualify.
However, there is still a chance that they could meet very difficult opponents with the likes of Lazio, Sporting Lisbon, Monaco, CSKA Moscow and Galatasaray all in contention.
Spain – 4th place qualifies for final play-off round
Valencia and Sevilla are still battling it out for the fourth spot with just two games remaining in La Liga. Valencia are currently 3 points ahead so they look like the more probable candidate to make the play off round.
Germany – 4th place qualifies for final play-off round
Bayer Leverkusen have fourth spot all wrapped up in the Bundesliga sitting 6 points clear of FC Augsburg who are in 5th.
Italy – 3rd place qualifies for final play-off round
There are still three fixtures remaining in Serie A and Roma, Lazio and Napoli could all potentially finish in 3rd. Roma are currently sitting in second spot on 64 points while Lazio are one behind on 63. However, Napoli can’t be ruled out either just 3 points behind in 4th.
Portugal – 3rd place qualifies for final play-off round
All sown up. Sporting Lisbon will be there.
Holland – 2nd place qualifies for third play-off round
PSV just tied up the league and Ajax are solid in second spot. They too will be there.
France – 3rd place qualifies for third play-off round
Similar to Italy, there is still an ongoing battle taking place in France for the 3rd spot. Lyon, Monaco and Marseille are all in contention but it is more than likely, on current standings, that it will be Monaco.
Russia – 2nd place qualifies for third play-off round
FK Krasnodar are currently in second but CSKA Moscow are also still in contention.
Ukraine – 2nd place qualifies for third play-off round
Shakhtar Donetsk sit in second position but with a number of games remaining, Dnipro are still very much in with a chance.
Turkey – 2nd place qualifies for third play-off round
Just two points currently separates first and third in the Turkish Super Lig. It could be Galatasaray, Fenerbahce or Besiktas.
There is an assumption in England that 4th spot means Champions League qualification. That the play offs are for jokers and that United will swat whoever they face aside with ease.
The Old Trafford giants will indeed be more than likely to meet an inferior opponent in the play offs, but with the likes of Lazio, Fenerbahce and Monaco lined up as potential opposition, Louis Van Gaal could have far from a walk over to face before they reach the group stage.
The draw for the play-off round is due to take place on August 7 with the first legs to be played on August 18 and 19 August and the second legs on August 25 and 26 August.