Manchester United kicked off their Champions League campaign in Group A with a 4-3 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena.
On matchday two, they welcomed Turkish champions Galatasaray to Old Trafford and suffered another loss in what was a 3-2 thriller.
That leaves them with four games to turn things around but it will be far from easy. They will now face Copenhagen twice, Galatasaray away from home and they finish the group by hosting Bayern in December.
The Sporting News takes a look at how United can make it to the knockout stages of the competition despite a rocky start.
How can Man United qualify for the Champions League knockout stages?
The European Cup, now known as the Champions League, debuted in 1955/56 with 16 teams. In 1992/93, it transformed into the Champions League featuring 78 clubs in the 2023/24 season. Qualification involves three rounds and a play-off in the summer, leading to the group stage of 32 teams starting in September.
There are eight groups, each with four teams that play each other home and away, with the top two advancing to the round of 16, while the third-placed team moves to the UEFA Europa League. The knockout phase includes two-legged rounds from the round of 16 to the semifinals and finishes in a final hosted by a pre-selected stadium. This season the final will be held at Wembley Stadium in London.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 3, 2023
To get out of the group, 10 points will almost guarantee United a place in the knockout rounds. United’s most likely route to that number will have to include two wins against Copenhagen, another at Galatasaray followed by avoiding defeat on the final matchweek against Bayern at Old Trafford.
However, nine points could also be just enough if Galatasaray fail to gain six points from their final four matches.
The exact permutations and points needed for United to qualify as group winner or runner-up will become clearer after matchday three.
Group A table
|1. Bayern Munich||6||2||2||0||0||6||4||+2|
|4. Man United||0||2||0||2||0||5||7||-2|
Group A schedule and results
|Wed, Sept. 20||Galatasaray 2-2 FC Copenhagen|
|Wed, Sept. 20||Bayern Munich 4-3 Man United|
|Tue, Oct. 3||Man United 2-3 Galatasaray|
|Tue, Oct. 3||FC Copenhagen 1-2 Bayern Munich|
|Tue, Oct. 24||Galatasaray vs. Bayern Munich|
|Tue, Oct. 24||Man United vs. FC Copenhagen|
|Wed, Nov. 8||Bayern Munich vs. Galatasaray|
|Wed, Nov. 8||FC Copenhagen vs. Man United|
|Wed, Nov. 29||Galatasaray vs. Man United|
|Wed, Nov. 29||Bayern Munich vs. FC Copenhagen|
|Tue, Dec. 12||Man United vs. Bayern Munich|
|Tue, Dec. 12||FC Copenhagen vs. Galatasaray|
How many English teams have won the Champions League?
The Champions League has only seen six different English teams claim the title. Manchester United were the first English side to lift the European Cup back in 1968. Less than a decade later, in 1976/77 Bob Paisley led Liverpool to a 3-1 win against Borussia Monchengladbach in Rome. Nottingham Forest’s ‘miracle men’ were the side who won it back-to-back in 1979 and 1980 before Aston Villa won their first in 1982.
In 2008, United defeated Chelsea in an all-English final, while Chelsea avenged their loss in 2012 against Bayern Munich. Manchester City then lifted the title in Istanbul when they beat Inter Milan in 2023.
England boasts 15 European Cup/Champions League titles, led by Liverpool with six wins. Manchester United has three, Chelsea and Nottingham Forest have two, and Aston Villa secured another, before Manchester City won their first in 2022/23.
In the 2023/24 Champions League group stages, reigning champions Man City, Man United, Arsenal, and Newcastle United represent the Premier League.