Through the first three rounds of the UEFA Champions League group stage draw, it looked like Manchester United was going to get off extremely easy. "RIGGED," screamed people who hate United and think UEFA wants this to happen to guarantee good TV ratings late in the competition.
And then Pot 4 was drawn and suddenly Group B got very interesting. Wolfsburg won't have Kevin De Bruyne when they take on the Red Devils, but they're still an excellent side, and they still have a few days left to re-invest part of the huge transfer fee they're getting. United might be the best team in this group, but it's not going to be easy.
Also of note, there are no bad teams here. While CSKA Moscow and PSV Eindhoven aren't the best teams that United could have drawn, they're not the worst either.
Group winners: Manchester United
Louis van Gaal's side is very much a work in progress and a superstar forward signing away from contending for trophies, but it's hard to justify picking anyone else to top this group. A Wolfsburg side with De Bruyne running the show would be a sexy pick to win it, but he can't help Die Wölfe while he's playing for Manchester City.
While Wayne Rooney is both slower than last year and making Juan Mata redundant, midfield signings Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger have improved United's defense significantly. Going the other direction, Memphis Depay looks like a legitimate superstar. It'll take another summer of great transfers for United to be a SuperClub again, but they're still the best side in Group B.
While Wolfsburg have surely planned for losing the Bundesliga player of the year, he'll still prove very difficult to replace. The good news for them is that Daniel Caligiuri, Andre Schürrle and Max Arnold are quite good, even if none is a like-for-like replacement. New signing Max Kruse should add some goals, as well, or at least make up for Bas Dost's regression to the mean. This is a solid team, good enough to scrape second place even without a marquee signing.
Europa League: CSKA Moscow
If you've seen them once, you've seen them a thousand times. Leonid Slutsky is here for his sixth season at the helm of CSKA, who are the second or third-best team in their group yet again. They didn't make many transfers this summer, except for bringing Seydou Doumbia back from AS Roma. They'll be expecting established stars like Ahmed Musa, Roman Eremenko and Alan Dzagoev to improve on their last season in Europe.
Out of Europe: PSV Eindhoven
The new Champions League draw format has created a No. 1 seed who is the clear favorite to finish bottom of their group. PSV lost Depay and Zakaria Bakkali this summer, so they're light on creative wide talent. New signing Gastón Pereiro is very fun, though, while 22-year-old Adam Maher is going to need to finally blossom into a superstar for PSV to have any chance of stealing second place.
Player to watch: Max Arnold
Arnold was moved back into a central midfield role to accommodate De Bruyne last season, and he did very well in it. But with De Bruyne gone, don't be surprised if Wolfsburg move Arnold back up the pitch, into the hole behind the striker. And if he does transition back into that role, he'll quickly become his team's key attacking player.
Key match: Manchester United vs. Wolfsburg
If Wolfsburg are going to top the group, they'll need to get points at Old Trafford.
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