The eight Champions League groups have been completed, all sixteen qualifiers for the knock out stage have been identified – and Manchester United now have a much better idea of who may be their next opponent in February. Nine clubs will definitely be avoided because they are either fellow Group Winners, Premier League clubs who cannot meet each other and Valencia who were in the same group as United in the first round. The clubs that United CANNOT possibly meet are Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, Schalke 04, Bayern Munich, Shakhtar Donetsk, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal
It was not easy but the job was completed in the end. Mind you, had only half the chances created by Manchester United been taken, the game could have been won before half time. Not for the first time this season, good opportunities went begging and United nearly paid a heavy price when Pablo gave Valencia the lead against the run of play just after the half hour. It took an all too rare Anderson equaliser after 62 minutes to get the one point needed to ensure top place in the group.
One of the biggest expectations during the recently closed transfer window was for Manchester United to secure a top class goalkeeper in preparation for veteran Edwin van der Sar’s impending retirement. Those expectations were further increased when Sir Alex Ferguson was prepared to allow Ben Foster move to Birmingham City but to the surprise of many, a replacement failed to materialise with Sir Alex putting all his faith in his number two keeper Tomasz Kuszczak. It was interesting see a report in the Manchester Evening News therefore that the Poland international is now contemplating a move away from Old Trafford despite van der Sar getting closer with every game to hanging up his gloves.