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Who could Manchester United face in Friday’s Europa League draw?

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We know you’re all bursting at the seams with excitement.

UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League - Q1 and Q2 Qualifying Round Draw Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Ah yes, the return of the humble Europa League. The group stage draw is set to be made at UEFA’s swanky pad in Monaco in a few hours time, and we’ve been painstakingly having a look at who Manchester United could face (i.e. checked UEFA’s website) so you don’t have to.

The good news is United are in Pot 1, and so theoretically, at least, will avoid being drawn against the tournament’s strongest teams. Also in this pot are Schalke, Zenit, Shakhtar Donetsk, Athletic Club, Olympiacos, Villarreal, Ajax, Inter Milan, Fiorentina, Anderlecht and Viktoria Plzeň. As you can see, many of these sides are pretty experienced European competitors, and United will be happy to have avoided them.

However, anyone else in the draw — with the exception of Premier League competitors Southampton — could well be placed in the same group as United. These include decidedy un-scary teams like Ireland's Dundalk, or Azerbaijan's Qäbälä, but United could also face the likes of Roma, Fenerbahçe or Feyenoord.

Here are the sides United could face (remember, there is a team from each pot in each group, meaning United couldn’t, for example, face both Roma and Fenerbahçe):

Pot 2

AZ Alkmaar (NED)

Braga (POR)

Salzburg (AUT)

Roma (ITA)

Fenerbahçe (TUR)

Sparta Praha (CZE)

PAOK (GRE)

Steaua Bucureşti (ROU)

Genk (BEL)

APOEL (CYP)

Standard Liège (BEL)

St-Étienne (FRA)

Pot 3

Gent (BEL)

Young Boys (SUI)

Krasnodar (RUS)

Rapid Wien (AUT)

Slovan Liberec (CZE)

Celta Vigo (ESP)

Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR)

Feyenoord (NED)

Austria Wien (AUT)

Mainz (GER)

Zürich (SUI)

Pot 4

Panathinaikos (GRE)

Sassuolo (ITA)

Qarabağ (AZE)

Astana (KAZ)

Nice (FRA)

Zorya Luhansk (UKR)

Astra Giurgiu (ROU)

Konyaspor (TUR)

Osmanlıspor (TUR)

Qäbälä (AZE)

Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR)

Dundalk (IRL)

We reckon the hardest group possible would look something like Roma, Celta Vigo, Panathinaikos; the easiest something like Salzburg, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Dundalk. Any other thoughts?