Not long after today's UEFA Champions League group stage draw, the fixture list was released as well. Here it is for Manchester United:
* 14 September - SL Benfica (away) | Lisbon, Portugal | Estadio da Luz
* 27 September - FC Basel | Manchester, England | Old Trafford
* 18 October - FC Otelul Galati (away) | Bucharest, Romania | Arena Nationala
* 2 November - FC Otelul Galati | Manchester, England | Old Trafford
* 22 November - SL Benfica | Manchester, England | Old Trafford
* 7 December - FC Basel (away) | Basel, Switzerland | St. Jakob-Park
The opening match away to Benfica, which appears to be the toughest group stage tie for United, is sandwiched between Premier League ties away to Bolton Wanderers (10 Sep) and home to Chelsea FC (18 Sep). The away match to Otelul Galati, which will be played at Romania's national stadium because their own stadium is not up to UEFA's standards for Champions League play, comes just days after a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool FC and just days before a derby clash at Old Trafford with Manchester City. If the Reds get favorable results in their first two Champions League ties, it's possible that a Reserves side appears in Romania.
United certainly have familiarity with Benfica in European competition. It was at Wembley in 1968 that then manager Sir Matt Busby captured the Reds' first European Cup in a famous 4-1 victory over a Eusebio led Benfica side. In recent times, United have clashed with the Portuguese side in the 2005/06 and 2006/07 Champions League competitions. United have twice met FC Basel, both during the 2002/03 competition. The match-up with Otelul Galati will be a first as the Romanian side won their domestic league last season for the first time in their club's history.
Quotes from manager Sir Alex Ferguson on his side's draw for this season's Champion League after the jump...
"It's an interesting draw with no real travel difficulties. We're looking forward to the games. Obviously we've played Benfica in the past. They're always great games. Obviously there's great history between the two clubs. Basel are a Swiss team who are doing really well. Swiss teams tend to bring lots of young players through their system which is great. We have played them before in 2002/03, in the group stage. We don't really know much about Otelul Galati but that's the beauty of the Champions League, you get fresh teams to play against. They obviously deserve to be in the competition. It's great for them."
-Sir Alex Ferguson