Benfica’s 2017/18 UEFA Champions League opponents have been revealed after the group stage draw was held in Monaco on Thursday. The Encarnados were drawn in Group A alongside three-time European Cup winners and last season’s Europa League victors Manchester United, Swiss champions FC Basel, and Russian Premier League runners-up CSKA Moscow.
The Eagles have faced Manchester United six times in the Champions League, and a further three times in the tournament's predecessor, the European Cup, with the Lisbon side victorious on just one occasion. Interestingly, Benfica last met both Manchester United and Basel during the Champions League group stage in 2011/12; the Portuguese giants topped Group C on 12 points, ahead of Basel in second and United in third.
Benfica will encounter a few familiar faces when they welcome United to the Estádio da Luz in October, including former manager José Mourinho, who endured an incredibly brief spell in Lisbon - resigning after just nine league games in charge - as well as former players Nemanja Matić and Victor Lindelöf.
Domestically, the Red Devils finished a disappointing sixth last season, but won the Community Shield, Europa League and EFL Cup, and will undoubtedly be a difficult prospect for Benfica, who will be seeking their first victory over the Old Trafford outfit since December 2005.
Swiss Champions Basel play their home games at the 38,000-seater St. Jakob-Park. To date, Benfica have only faced the RotBlau twice in all competitions; they were victorious in their first Champions League meeting back in 2011/12, recording a 2-0 triumph despite having Emerson sent off, and they drew the reverse fixture 1-1 at the Estádio da Luz. O Glorioso will be eager to extend this unbeaten run against Raphael Wicky’s men, who finished rock-bottom of Group A last season under former manager Urs Fischer, claiming just two points.
Rui Vitória’s team will also travel to the Russian capital to play the 2005 UEFA Cup winners CSKA Moscow at the VEB Arena. The two sides have met just twice previously, contesting a two-legged Round of 32 tie in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup, the tournament which the Russians went on to win. Benfica lost 2-0 in Moscow, and drew the home leg 1-1. The Portuguese champions will be hoping for better this time around against Viktor Goncharenko’s side, who are aiming to reach the knockout stages for the first time since 2011/12. CSKA finished fourth in Group E last season under Leonid Slutsky, failing to record a single win.