Man Utd have unavoidable disadvantage on Arsenal, Celtic and Rangers in Europa League | Football | Sport
Manchester United will have to travel farther than any other British club in the Europa League group stage this season.
United have arguably one of the easier groups of the British sides but face away days in Kazakhstan, Serbia and Holland.
The Red Devils were drawn into Group L as the top seeds with Pot 2’s Astana, Pot 3’s Partizan Belgrade and Pot 4’s AZ Alkmaar for company.
The accumulative distance United will clock up on their travels is 8,909 miles – more than any other British club in European competition this season.
The biggest trip of the lot – a mammoth 5,950-mile round trip away to Astana in northern Kazakhstan – comes in the penultimate group game.
A one-way flight to the region trumps Arsenal’s accumulative flight distance altogether.
Unai Emery’s men will only travel 2,896 miles in the sky over their three group games against Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege and Vitoria.
The draw was kind to the north London side in a competition where trips away to teams outside of western Europe are common.
Wolves are the closest challengers to United’s extensive escapades, flying 6,742 miles for matches against Braga, Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s men are tipped to do well in the competition this season but their lengthy trips will test the mettle of his tightly-knit squad.
Celtic are not far behind the Black Country outift, flying 6,214 miles in journeys to CFR Cluj, Lazio and Rennes.
Bizarrely, Tottenham will clock up the exact same amount of air miles in the Champions League against Olympiacos, Crvena zvezda and Bayern Munich.
Rangers have a slightly kinder draw in a geographical sense compared to their Old Firm rivals, with a total distance of 4,615 miles.
Porto proves the longest journey of the lot, while landing in Holland (Feyenoord) and Switzerland (Young Boys) should not bring with it any jet lag.
There is no proven correlation between flight times/distance and performance but longer journeys naturally give less time for preparation and complicate arrangements with regards to returning home.
All of the British clubs’ away fixtures are in the early kick-off slots save for United’s trip to Astana and Arsenal’s test in Vitoria, which get started even earlier at 3.50pm UK time.
United still face a tricky schedule when they play Astana in Kazakhstan, however, with the Thursday night match nevertheless kicking off at 9.50pm local time, 65 hours before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford at 3pm on the Sunday.
Arsenal have no such worries and should be able to fly back the same night their games take place if they wish, with the latest local time kick-off against Standard Liege (7.55pm) on the final matchday.
Wolves have the same situation in their fixtures, with kick-off in Turkey (7.55pm) the latest of the lot in the second round of matches.
Celtic’s latest start is in Romania against Cluj when they are set to hear the final whistle around 11pm, but otherwise face easy returns from Rome and Brittany.
Rangers should similarly be prepared for weekend fixtures with Matchday 3’s trip to Porto the latest local kick-off time at 7.55pm.