Europa League group stage draw: Liverpool, Dortmund get easy draws
The Europa League draw followed the Champions League draw that was held yesterday. The less glamorous cousin of the biggest European club stage of all features a plethora of big names this time. The likes of Ajax, Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund, Athletic Bilbao and Schalke will surely be among the top contenders in the league, perhaps to be reconsidered once the third-placed Champions League teams from the group stages join them in the round of 32 phase.
Teams will be set for some exciting encounters as giants Ajax and Celtic find themselves in the same group along with Turkish superpower Fenerbahce who now boast the likes of Robin van Persie and Nani in their strikeforce. While, most giants will be expected to at least make it out of the group stages, the minnows haven’t been drawn into the competition to make up the numbers, they have shown in the past, the potential to make their mark in history.
The draw of winning the Europa League is now stronger with the prize being a direct ticket to the Champions League for next season. Sevilla made the most of that route last season despite qualifying at domestic level as well, they saved themselves the hassle of going through the qualifiers. The same destiny awaits the winner of this year's competition. There is a possibility that Sevilla could win the competition for the third time in a row. After all, they have been drawn into the ‘Group of death’ along with Juventus Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach.
Here's what the 12 Europa League groups look like:
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Ajax||Rubin Kazan||Borussia Dortmund||Napoli|
|Fenerbahce||Bordeaux||FC Krasnodar||Legia Warsaw|
|Molde FK||FC Sion||Gabala||Midtjylland|
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
|Rapid Vienna||Slovan Liberec||St Etienne||FC Lokomotiv Moscow|
|FC Dinamo Minsk||FC Groningen||Rosenborg||Skenderbeu|
|Group I||Group J||Group K||Group L|
|Lech Poznan||AS Monaco||Sparta Prague||Augsburg|
|Beleneses||Qarabag||Asteros Tripolis||FK Partizan|
Like the Champions League, the Europa League will see its fair share of action up until December before heading into the knockout stage. The schedules only differ in the volume of games played and the dates they are played on. Especially the final that will be played 10 days before the Champions League finale.