Football

Manchester United must avoid Champions League complacency

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It is worth remembering that it was only two years ago that Manchester United finished third in a Champions League group that included Benfica, Basel and Otelul Galati.

On paper this group appears tougher. This time, they have a manager getting his first experience of the Champions League. When the names were revealed I'm sure many United supporters were relieved to miss out on big names in the smaller pot such as Napoli, Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid - the same unfortunately can't be said about Arsenal.

However, this isn't about Arsene Wenger and his continuous problems, it is about David Moyes and his teams approach to Group A.  

On paper, the prospect of facing the likes of Shaktar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Sociedad won't give you sleepless nights - but here is why it should:

First of all, Shaktar are no stranger when it comes to Europe's big stage, having become the first Ukrainian club to win the UEFA Cup in 2009. Shakhtar’s European success is matched only by rivals Dynamo Kyiv. Last season, they won their respective league for the eighth time, while in the Champions League they ousted Chelsea to qualify from their group before being outclassed by Dortmund in a one-sided second leg.

A strong squad full of talent Shaktar, even with the departures of Willian and Fernandinho, they will still be a tough away trip for the English champions. With the likes of Taison, Wellington Nem, Douglas Costa and Bernard still available for selection, coach Mircea Lucescu should have no concern about chances being created against the likes of Jonny Evans. 

Bayer Leverkusen are a team which have slipped under people's radar and that's not surprising as they haven't been the force that they used to be. The five-times Bundesliga winners had a disappointing European experience last season as they were dumped out of the Europa League by Benfica in the round of 32.

Domestically, Leverkusen finished the Bundesliga season in third place, only one point behind Dortmund - no easy feat. Also, with the likes of Stefan Kießling and Simon Rolfes on the pitch, the team could count on inspiration from their leading goalscorer and captain. Towering centre-forward Kießling scored 27 goals in all competitions last season. Captain Rolfes is a driving force from the heart of midfield. Also, look for Son Heung-Min to have a big season following his capture from HSV. 

The surprise team this year could be Real Sociedad after they finished ahead Valencia and Malaga to claim fourth place in La Liga. Should Manchester United really be worried about them? Well, yes. The La Liga runners up from 2003 over achieved last season and have carried on their good form beating Lyon to show they belong in this year Champions League.

It was a heavy blow when influential midfielder Asier Illarramendi was sold Real Madrid but the likes of Carlos Vela the and French winger Antoine Griezmann will look to cause a few problems. 

Manchester United will not have the same experience that they have had the luxury of enjoying for the past two decades following the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. New manager Moyes is relatively new to Europe and with the lack of the squad depth compared to Chelsea and Manchester City, they will seemingly struggle in Europe this season. The manager will need to adapt quickly to the demands of Old Trafford and hope not to succumb under pressure in cold nights in the city of Donetsk. 

United's draw could have been much worse. However, no match will be a forgone conclusion. My advice to Manchester United and their fans out there is: don't sit comfortably. 

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Topics:
Manchester United
UEFA Champions League
Football

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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