Louis van Gaal
Van Gaal's first foray in the Champions League with United starts with a play-off round in August Getty Images

Manchester United face a potentially tough route into next season's Champions League group stage after confirmation of the qualifiers for the preliminary rounds of the competitions.

Louis van Gaal's side will enter the league route play-off round, the last of four stages to grab one of the 10 remaining places in the group stage, as one of five seeded teams alongside Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen.

Ajax and Shakhtar Donetsk are the next best ranked side in Uefa's coefficient standings and will join the trio should they win their respective third qualifying ties, but CSKA Moscow, Club Brugge and Monaco could benefit from any slip up.

The draw for the play-off round takes place on 7 August and United's opponents will be drawn from the five lowest ranked qualifying teams in the league route. That group is guaranteed to include Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon and Italian giants Lazio.

Stefano Pioli's side saw off the challenge of Napoli on the final day of the Serie A season to grab the third and final qualifying berth but face a tricky tie if they're to take their place in the group stage.

Joining Sporting and Lazio will be the three lowest ranked teams to progress from the league route of the third qualifying round, a pool of clubs which includes CSKA, Brugge and Monaco as well as Young Boys and Sparta Prague.

Having reached the last eight of this season's competition after knocking out Arsenal, Monaco represent the greatest threat to United's hopes of returning to the Champions League group stage and could see them up against former loanee Radamel Falcao.

Currently ranked 10<sup>th in Uefa's rankings, United would be placed into pot two for the group stage draw which is scheduled for 27 August should they qualify, with the seeded pot reserved for the domestic champions from the top seven in Uefa's association coefficient rankings, as well as the holders.

But with La Liga champions Barcelona and Serie A winners Juventus set to contest the final on 6 June in Berlin, PSV Eindhoven will take their place in pot one of champions of the association ranked eighth by Uefa, which is the Netherlands.

The trio join Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Benfica, Paris Saint Germain and Zenit St Petersburg as the seeded teams for the group stage for the 2015/16 competition.