Man United learn possible Champions League playoff opponents
Manchester United could face a tricky Champions League playoff against the likes of CSKA Moscow, Lazio, Monaco or Sporting Lisbon in August.
The 15 teams which take part in the non-champions half of the qualifying draw are now known after Lazio held off the challenge of Rafael Benitez led Napoli to hold on to third place in Serie A.
Manchester United, ranked 10th by UEFA, will be the top seeded club in the final qualifying round -- joined by Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen, Shakhtar Donetsk and Ajax. These five clubs cannot face each other, though Shakhtar and Ajax must navigate through the third qualifying round first.
Man United's poss UCL PO: Sporting, CSKA, Lazio, Brugge, Monaco, Young Boys, Sparta Prague, Fenerbahce, Rapid Vienna, Panathinaikos #mufc- Dale Johnson (@dalejohnsonESPN) June 1, 2015
A two-legged tie against Monaco, who reached the Champions League quarterfinals this season and knocked out Arsenal in the round of 16, might be considered the trickiest of the potential ties.
Rapid Vienna, in the Champions League for the first time since 2008-09, are the lowest ranked club at 121st.
If United do qualify for the group stage, they will be in pot 2 in the draw alongside Arsenal and Manchester City, with Chelsea a top seed as English champions.
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United will discover their fate on August 7 when the draw for the playoff round is made, with the draw for the groups on August 27.
Non-champions do not join qualifying before the third qualifying round.
THIRD QUALIFYING ROUND
UEFA rank in (brackets), ties July 28/29 and August 4/5
Seeded: Shakhtar Donetsk (18), Ajax (26), CSKA Moscow (34), Club Brugge (51), Monaco (68)
Unseeded: Young Boys (69), Sparta Prague (72), Fenerbahce (75), Panathinaikos (100), Rapid Vienna (121)
The winners of these five two-legged ties will advance to the playoff round, with the ties played on August 18/19 and 25/26.
UEFA rank in (brackets)
Seeded: Manchester United (10), Valencia (12), Bayer Leverkusen (16), Shakhtar Donetsk* (18), Ajax* (26)
Unseeded: Sporting Lisbon (33), Lazio (40) plus the three other qualifiers from the third qualifying round
* If either Shakhtar Donetsk or Ajax fail to make the playoff round then Sporting Lisbon will be seeded.
* If both Shakhtar and Ajax fail to make the playoff round then CSKA Moscow** will be seeded too.
** If Shakhtar, Ajax and CSKA fail to make the playoff round then Lazio will be seeded along with Sporting..
Dale Johnson has been an editor and journalist at ESPN for 18 years. You can follow him on Twitter @dalejohnsonESPN.