Manchester United were one of 22 automatic entrants in the group-stage draw at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco. The Premier League champions were the first team to be drawn, and were put straight into Group C.
The Reds were named in the same group as Benfica, Basel and Otelul Galati. StrettyNews.com decided to write a short paragraph on each club mentioned.
The Portuguese champions will probably be the toughest fixture for United in Group C. Last season, Benfica broke a record after going on a run of eighteen consecutive victories in all competitions, which began and ended against Braga. However, in the last year they have witnessed major departures with Ramires, Angel Di Maria and David Luiz all signing for different clubs in Europe. Their main threat would be Óscar Cardozo, who is a prolific goalscorer known for his powerful left-foot and free-kicks.
Basel are the most successful club in Swiss football; winning the Swiss Super League fourteen times. They have competed in Europe every season since 1999-2000. This comes as a major relief to the fans, who witnessed a poor spell in the late 80’s after getting relegated from the first division. I don’t know much about their current team, but I do know Roger Federer supporters them. I suppose you could call that their claim to fame.
Otelul Galtai is a Romanian football club based in Galaţi, the seventh most populous city in Romania. The city has the largest iron and steel plant in Romania, which is where they get their nickname from – The Ironworkers. This will be a debut season in the Champions League for Otelul, so it will almost top their 47-year history. Like Basel, I don’t know much about their current team. But we should remember how Rubin Kazan surprised European football a few years ago, causing Barcelona an upset in the group-stage. It will be a long trip for Ferguson’s men, but it will probably be the easiest fixture of Group C.
2011/2012 UEFA Champions League Group-Stage Draw
Group A: Bayern Munich, Villarreal, Manchester City, Napoli.
Group B: Inter Milan, CSKA Moscow, Lille, Trabzonspor.
Group C: Manchester United, Benfica, Basel, Otelul Galati.
Group D: Real Madrid, Lyon, Ajax, Dinamo Zagreb.
Group E: Chelsea, Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen, Genk.
Group F: Arsenal, Marseille, Olympiacos, Borussia Dortmund.
Group G: Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St. Petersburg, Apoel Nicosia.
Group H: Barcelona, AC Milan, BATE Borisov, Viktoria Plizen.
Manchester United Group C Fixtures
Benfica (Away) – Wednesday, 14th September, 7:45pm
Basel (Home) – Tuesday, 27th September, 7:45pm
Otelul Galati (Away) – Tuesday, 18th October, 7:45pm
Otelul Galati (Home) – Wednesday, 2nd November, 7:45pm
Benfica (Home) – Tuesday, 22nd November, 7:45pm
Basel (Away) – Wednesday, 7th December, 7:45pm