Jose Mourinho will consider it a successful job done with United qualifying for the last 16 in a group that could have caused problems. However, he will be looking to go further than they did last year, after exiting at the round of 16 stage to Sevilla.
Firstly I will discuss all the possibilities for United to draw, before highlighting what I believe will be Mourinho’s preferred choice.
Dortmund are currently top of the Bundesliga and no side will relish drawing them at the moment, with their attacking brand of football drawing yet more plaudits and good results.
Dortmund last faced United in the 1997 Champions League and have won 2 of the 6 matches they have faced off against each other, with 1 of the games finishing a draw and Man Utd winning the other 3.
Barcelona are top of La Liga but haven’t been as convincing as they have in previous years. Still, with Messi still at the peak of his powers, they are a real danger and a danger United will want to avoid.
Yet again United’s record against Barcelona is very close, having played them more recently in 2 Champions League finals in 3 years back in 2009 & 2011. They have won 3 games between the sides with Barca winning 4 and 4 of them ending in draws.
PSG are absolutely steamrolling their domestic league as they are 10 points clear with 2 games in hand already. As Liverpool proved in the group stages they aren’t unbeatable. I think United would fancy an easier tie than coming up against Neymar, Mbappe and co.
I can’t find any evidence of these two sides facing each other competitively, only managing to find a game in an International Champions Cup friendly tournament back in 2015, which PSG won 2-0.
The European heavyweights have won the past 3 editions of the Champions League and 13 altogether. They are having somewhat of a poor season by their standards, having already sacked and replaced Zidane’s replacement, who himself resigned after last seasons Champions League win. For whatever reason, they are just off the pace and this game represents a potential reunion for Mourinho. One I don’t think he will want as they still possess quality, despite selling talisman Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer.
Real Madrid also have a good record against Man United winning 5 of 11 games against them and drawing 4. Losing only twice. They remain one of United’s major thorns in Europe.
Another club who after replacing a manager who walked away last season, things haven’t gone to plan for. If there was ever a time to play the German heavyweights it was now, with them struggling for consistency domestically. Finding themselves 9 points off the top of a league they are so used to winning.
Rumours the players aren’t buying into Niko Kovač’s methods are possibly impacting results with certain players such as Thomas Müller, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery no longer operating at the level they once did – making them look an attractive opponent for United.
Bayern like Real Madrid, however, hold a positive competitive record against United, with Man Utd coming out on top in only 2 of their 11 matches, 5 ending in draws and Munich winning the other 4. However United enjoyed perhaps the best win over the side in the dramatic 1999 Champions League Final.
Good times that look a long time away for the club currently.
Last but not least, the tie I believe will be the one most kind to United and the one Jose will be favouring. Due to failing to win the group with a loss in Valencia in the final group game, United have given themselves a harder task of advancing here – with them facing the group winners which as you can see is some of Europe’s elite.
With no disrespect to Porto, they are debatably a level below the other potential opponents and they had by far the easiest group to qualify from, and to their credit, as they can only play whose in front of them. They won the group convincingly only dropping 2 points in all 6 games and, finishing 5 points clear of 2nd place Schalke.
Man United have faced Porto 8 times, with 6 of those games in the Champions League and 2 of them in the old Euro Cup Winners Cup.
Their record is actually fairly equal with Porto winning twice, the latest when Mourinho was in charge of Porto back in 2004 in the Champions League knockout stages, he went on to win it that year and arguably launch his career.
There has been 3 draws between the sides and United have won 3 of the games. This reunion could be the one Jose will most want.