Manchester United's potential opponents in the Champions League qualifying draw look tough 7 years ago

Manchester United's potential opponents in the Champions League qualifying draw look tough

The Group stages are anything but guaranteed.

Liverpool's draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge has all but sealed fourth place for Manchester United and with that, Van Gaal's men will be making a return to the Champions League.

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The group stages are a long way off though because United will first have to win in a two-leggged play-off round if they're to take their place among Europe's best 32 teams.

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park on May 9, 2015 in London, England.

As we look across Europe and see the how the league tables are currently standing, the potential opponents for United represent a serious challenge to their hopes of making the competition proper.

On the plus side, United will be seeded in the 'League Route' side of the draw and are likely to avoid some of the teams below with stronger European pedigree from La Liga and the Bundesliga.

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It's unlikely that they'll be paired with Spanish opposition, which is a plus because a resurgent Valencia or Europa League winners Seville would be a match for most sides.

Valencia have been a revelation in La Liga this year and Los Che recently held Real Madrid to a 2-2 draw over the weekend.

SEVILLE, SPAIN - APRIL 24:  Victor Perez 'Vitolo' (R) of Sevilla FC is tackled by Joao Pereira of Valencia CF during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final first leg match between Sevilla FC and Valencia CF at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on April 24, 2014 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

The Italian league is not over yet, but any one of Lazio, Napoli or Roma might have fancied their chances against the men from Manchester.

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The German league will will come from Bayer Leverkusen, a club with a rich history in the Champions League having famously knocked United out in the semi-finals, so they're likely to be avoided.

The Germans were also very unlucky to lose to Atletico Madrid on penalties this year.

during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Vicente Calderon Stadium on March 17, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.

Sporting Lisbon are a club that Man Utd fans are very familiar with and that could be a tasty tie if United were paired with them.

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Three French clubs are still vying for the play-off spot and any one of Monaco, Marseille and St Etienne could potentially stand in the way of United.

Dimitar Berbatov might enjoy a return to Old Trafford.

European aristocrats and Van Gaal's former club Ajax represent the Dutch challenge while Anderlecht are potentially the weakest 'well known' team.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 19:  Riechedly Bazoer #27 of Ajax celebrates after scoring a goal to level the scores at 1-1 on aggregate during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16, second leg match between AFC Ajax v FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk at Amsterdam Arena on March 19, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

The Turkish sides are always difficult, especially on their own ground, so Fenerbache or Besiktas might offer a nice'Welcome To Hell' greeting for United.

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There's teams from other countries, including Russia, Ukraine and Greece also in the mix as potential banana skins lie on every turn.

So, while United fans should be happy about their inevitable top four finish, there's absolutely no guarantee that they'll qualify for the group stages.

EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS - DECEMBER 17:  Memphis Depay of PSV Eindhoven celebrates scoring his teams winning goal in the final minute of the game during the Eredivisie match between PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord Rotterdam held at the Philips Stadion on December 17, 2014 in Eindhoven, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Much will depend on who Van Gaal brings into the squad, Memphis Depay has already been added, but United fans will be anxious ahead of the draw for that play-off round on August 7th.

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