What happens if Man Utd finish third in their UEFA Champions League group stage?


After their thrilling away game against Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League, Manchester United’s chances of progressing into this season’s knockout stages remain even.

A 3-3 draw in Istanbul after a game in which United twice led by two goals means they currently occupy bottom spot in Group A with five games to play. They have only won one of those five games but still, surprisingly, can still qualify.

The failure to hold onto a lead in Turkey mirrored their previous outing in Copenhagen: after leading 2-0 in the first half, Erik ten Haga’s side were beaten 4-3 in the Danish capital after Marcus Rashford’s red card.

That leaves one final game at home to Bayern Munich for United to turn their fortunes around and reach the round of 16 stage. But it is not entirely in their own hands.

Group A

Team GP W D L GD P
Bayern Munich (Q) 5 4 1 0 +5 13
Copenhagen 5 1 2 2 -1 5
Galatasaray 5 1 2 2 -2 5
Man United 5 1 1 3 -2 4

What happens if Man Utd finish third in the Champions League group stage?

Currently in the 2023/24 season, UEFA has three European competitions for teams to participate in: the Champions League, the Europa League and the European Conference League.

The Champions League is the most prestigious of the three tournaments where some of Europe’s biggest football clubs qualify each season, this time including Manchester United.

In the UCL group stage in its current format, the top two teams that finish first and second advance to the knockout stages of the tournament, but if a team finishes third in their group, they are relegated to the Europa League instead.

Therefore, if the Red Devils finish third in Group A this season, they will join the Europa League for the knockout round of the play-offs with a win in this tie and reach the round of 16 stage.

Last season, United were on the opposite side, and after finishing second in their Europa League group, had to face Barcelona (who were knocked out of the Champions League) in the Europa League play-offs before progressing to the last eight.

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