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Manchester United travel to Portugal, Switzerland and Romania in favourable group draw for Champions League first round

By Steven Oldham, Sports Correspondent

Manchester United will face Benfica, FC Basel and Otelul Galati in the Champions League following this afternoon’s group stage draw.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s team will hope to exorcise ghosts of European nights past when they take on the Portuguese team this season.

A defeat to the Primiera Liga runners up saw United finish bottom of their group in 2005, with a 2-1 away defeat condemning them to a rare wooden spoon.

United last faced Basle in the 2002/2003 season group stages when the Old Trafford team reached the quarter-finals.

Basle defeated Moldovan champions FC Sherriff Tirapsol to qualify for this year’s group stage.

Romanian side Otelul Galati are an unknown quantity, having won their national title for the first time last year and they will make their Champions League debut this season.

United, finallists last season, will hope to go one better in 2011/2012 after succumbing to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona team at Wembley in May this year.

Their draw is certainly easier on paper than neighbours Manchester City, who face a tough debut in the Champion’s League against four-time Champions League winners Bayern Munich, Villarael and returing Italian dark horses Napoli.

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