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Why Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss away game if Man Utd are drawn against Qarabag

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Following last season's tricky, yet ultimately successful, Europa League campaign, Jose Mourinho will be relieved to see Manchester United's name in the draw for the Champions League group stages later today.

The Red Devils have been seeded in Pot Two for the draw, which will take place in Zurich this afternoon and face the daunting prospect of drawing either Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus from Pot One.

But it isn't just the big names Mourinho should be concerned about. They are plenty of clubs capable of causing an upset from Pot Four too.

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Bundesliga runners-up RB Leipzig are joined by the likes of Celtic, CSKA Moscow and Sporting Lisbon in the pot of lowest seeded teams entering this year's competition.

They will be joined by FK Qarabag, who became the first side from Azerbaijan to qualify for the group stages with an away goal aggregate win over Copenhagen last night.

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Although they will be considered minnows whoever they draw later on, Man United have a reason to want to avoid being picked in the same group.

That's because they will then be forced into making an uncomfortable decision regarding Henrikh Mkhitaryan's availability for the potential away trip to Azerbaijan.

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Due to political tensions, Azerbaijan have banned Armenian citizens from entering the country.

There have been exceptions to allow Armenian athletes to compete in sporting events such as the European Games in 2015, but they are few and far between.

Borussia Dortmund faced a similar dilemma two years ago when they were due to face Azerbaijani club Gabala in the Europa League.

It was believed the creative midfielder would have been granted a visa to enter the country but Dortmund decided to leave him out of the travelling squad due to security concerns.

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"It's a conflict situation between two countries. This can happen. We have taken the decision together. Had it been the semifinal, we would have maybe decided differently," Dortmund's CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said at the time, as per ESPN.

"We've talked to the player again, and it's the best decision for all involved. There's a bit of discomfort. Henrikh's not upset to stay behind."

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Despite missing the away tie, Mkhitaryan did feature in the reverse fixture.

Nevertheless, it remains a potentially difficult decision Man United will want to avoid making once they learn their fate and the groups are eventually drawn.

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Topics:
Borussia Dortmund
Football
Henrikh Mkhitaryan

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