Manchester United players (Reuters)
Manchester United were given a troublesome tie against Club Bruges in the draw for the Champions League playoff round on Friday, although it could have been worse as they avoided Lazio, CSKA Moscow or Monaco.
Lazio will meet Bayer Leverkusen as they attempt to return to the group stage for the first time since 2007-08 while another high profile tie pitted Spain's Valencia against Monaco, who were quarter-finalists last year.
Portugal's Sporting will face CSKA while Rapid Vienna, who stunned Ajax Amsterdam by beating the four-times European champions in the previous round, were rewarded with a tie against group stage regulars Shakhtar Donetsk from Ukraine.
United, fourth in the English Premier League last season, will still be uncomfortable at having to overcome Bruges to avoid missing out on the group stage for the second season in a row.
"Belgian football is right at the very top and we have two Belgian players in the squad who keep us abreast of what's going on there," said Manchester United club secretary John Alexander.
"We go into any game with confidence. We'd like to think we can win the competition."
Former European champions Celtic will play Swedish counterparts Malmo, with the first leg in Glasgow, as they attempt to make up for last season's disappointing playoff round defeat against Maribor.
Skenderbeu, aiming to become first Albanian team to reach the group stage, must face Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb and Astana, hoping to become Kazakhstan's first representatives in the competition proper, must meet APOEL of Cyprus.
Champions League regulars FC Basel, Swiss champions for the last six seasons, face Maccabi Tel Aviv and BATE Borisov, who have also became familiar faces in the group stage with four appearances since 2008/09, take on Serbia's Partizan.
The first legs will be played on August 18/19 and the second legs on August 25/26.
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