It may seem an easy draw for Manchester United at first, but it is anything but that. United will likely go through to the next round, but not without some fierce competition.
Leverkusen could provide the Red Devils with the stiffest competition of the group. Despite losing top players Andre Schurrle and Daniel Carvajal to Chelsea and Real Madrid, the German club has replaced them with younger, exciting players for the future, including impressive German prospect Emre Can from Bayern Munich.
The group is home to two other teams who lost some of their stars to bigger clubs. Real Sociedad will be looking to replace Asier Illarramendi while Shakhtar Donetsk will look for a quartet of young Brazilians spearheaded by Bernard to fill the shoes of Fernandinho, Razvan Rat and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. This preview piece also wins the award for “Highest Number of Difficult Names to Spell Per Capita.”
Given time to progress, the current Shakhtar team could easily advance in second place. This time, however, their inexperience will be their down fall. Sociedad romped over perennial CL stalwarts Lyon in the qualifying round. Look for them to continue that form into the knockout stages.
Prediction- Man United, Sociedad, Shakhtar, Leverkusen.