Man Utd and Arsenal face potential nightmare Champions League groups this season

Manchester United and Arsenal could be handed nightmare groups as they prepare to return to the Champions League.

Both are back in Europe’s elite club competition after finishing second and third in the Premier League last season. Treble-winners Manchester City and Newcastle will be England’s other representatives. Ahead of the group stage draw on Thursday (5pm UK time), anticipation is building among the fans of both clubs.

But excitement could turn to despair if their sides are handed tough opponents. Neither club will be among the top seeds as they are filled with domestic champions, plus Europa League winners Sevilla. With the final qualifying matches taking place tonight (Wednesday), the final list of pots will be confirmed on Thursday morning.

Pots two to four will be based on the UEFA club coefficient rankings, meaning United and Arsenal are set to be in pot two. Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan will also be in pot two, ruling them out as potential opponents for Erik ten Hag and Mikel Arteta.

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As usual, teams from the same country will be kept apart until at least the quarter-final stage. Therefore, potential opponents from pot one include Harry Kane’s Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Napoli. Pot three also includes some tasty-looking opponents, including AC Milan, Lazio and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Pot four looks strong as well, where potential opponents include Galatasaray, new boys Union Berlin and Real Sociedad, plus Celtic. Rangers will make the group stage if they can see off PSV Eindhoven tonight in the qualifying round tie. The first leg at Ibrox ended in a 2-2 draw.

What would be the toughest groups for Manchester United and Arsenal? Tell us in the comments section below

Worst-case scenario

1. Bayern Munich/PSG/Barcelona

2. Manchester United/Arsenal

3. AC Milan

4. Union Berlin/Galatasaray

Best-case scenario

1. Benfica/Feyenoord

2. Manchester United/Arsenal

3. Red Bull Salzburg/Braga/Red Star Belgrade

4. Celtic/Lens

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The teams play each other home and away between September and December as usual, with the top two progressing to the last 16.

The teams finishing third enter the Europa League knockout round play-offs, where they will face the runners-up from the Europa League group stages for a place in the last 16 of that competition.

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