Manchester United’s Europa League final defeat to Villarreal could see them handed a favourable draw in next season’s Champions League – despite not being seeded in Pot 1.
The Red Devils lost 11-10 on penalties in last week’s final to extend their wait for a first major trophy since 2017 into a fifth season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be back in Europe’s top-tier competition next term after finishing runners-up in the Premier League – guaranteeing them a spot in the group stages.
And United’s attempt to navigate the group – something they failed to do this season, finishing third – has been given a boost after missing out on Pot 1.
Of the eight teams in Pot 1, six have won their domestic leagues this season, while the other two are both European champions.
Pot 1 contains Manchester City, Lille, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Sporting Lisbon, Chelsea and Villarreal.
Manchester United and rivals Liverpool will take their place in Pot 2 alongside a bunch of arguably trickier opponents who they cannot be drawn against.
They are Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund.
No English clubs can be drawn against each other in the group stages meaning United are looking at a favourable draw from pot one.
Excluding Man City and Chelsea, United would be happy with any of the six remaining teams, except Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.
Although Pot 3 and Pot 4 are not yet completed, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will still have an idea of who he might like to avoid.
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The likes of Porto, Ajax and RB Leipzig are all possible opponents from Pot 3, while Pot 4 so far contains AC Milan and Wolfsburg.
United’s remaining possible group stages foes will be decided following the conclusion of the play-off round, which takes place in mid-August.
The group stages of the 2021/22 Champions League begin on September 14 and run until December 8.
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