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Friday the Europa League draw took place in Istanbul and the groups are now known. Arsenal have been drawn into what could shape up to be a tough group as group A contains PSV, Bodo/Glimt, and FC Zurich. While Bodo/Glimt didn’t complete the job of toppling Roma in the Conference League quarterfinals last season, they could give Arsenal trouble if the Gunners slip up. Manchester United’s job will be slightly easier getting out of group E as Alexander Isak seems to be Premier League bound, leaving a hole up top for Real Sociedad.
Joining the Red Devils are a Sheriff side that has defeated Real Madrid and Omonia. Jose Mourinho and Roma will also be pleased to be in a winnable Group C. Real Betis will give them a run for their money but Ludogorets and HJK are certainly off the pace of the top two clubs.
The groups in full:
Group A: Arsenal, PSV, Bodo/Glimt and FC Zurich
Group B: Dynamo Kyiv, Rennes, Fenerbahce and AEK Larnaca
Group C: Roma, Ludogorets, Real Betis and HJK
Group D: Braga, Malmo, Union Berlin and Union Saint-Gilloise
Group E: Manchester United, Real Sociedad, Sheriff and Omonia
Group F: Lazio, Feyenoord, Midtjylland and SK Sturm Graz
Group G: Olympiacos, Qarabag FK, SC Freiburg and Nantes
Group H: Red Star Belgrade, Monaco, Ferencvaros and Trabzonspor
For advancement, the top team in each group will automatically head to the round of 16. The second placed team in each group will play a knockout round against the third placed team in each Champions League group to determine the opponents for group winners. Third placed teams in Europa league groups will head to the Conference League knockouts while fourth placed sides are out of European competition.
All eyes were on where the American forward would land and while Group D is a balanced group, it not only gives Pefok good competition to test himself against but also provides a route for advancement. Braga, Malmo and Union Saint-Gilloise will join Union Berlin in the group. Union Saint Gilloise are an exciting story even though they were knocked out of the Champions League playoff round by Rangers. After being promoted from the second tier in Belgium, they won the Juniper Pro League in the next season behind an attack that scored 78 goals. If Union Berlin aren’t on their toes, this could be a game with quite a few goals in it.
Surprise qualifiers for European competition, Nantes have been drawn into a tough Group F. While they can certainly qualify, Qarabag FK and Olympiacos are Champions League regulars. SC Freiburg have also been improving in the Bundesliga each year and would likely be my pick to win the group. Nante haven’t gotten off to a good start to Ligue 1 play either drawing their first two matches before losing to Marseille. They’ll need to shake that off for Europa League.
Another balanced group formed in Group H with Red Star Belgrade, Ferencvaros, and Trabzonspor joining Monaco. It would be a tough group for some teams to get out of but Monaco are arguably the second strongest Ligue 1 team after PSG but they’ve been plagued by red cards in their last two league matches. Monaco will need to stay disciplined to advance but they have the attack to get it done.
The Europa Conference league draw also took place and here’s how that shook out
Group A: Istanbul Basaksehir, Fiorentina, Hearts and RFS
Group B: West Ham, FCSB, Anderlecht and Silkeborg
Group C: Villarreal, Hapoel-Beer-Sheva, Austria Wien and Lech Poznan
Group D: Partizan, Koln, Nice and Slovacko
Group E: AZ Alkmaar, Apollon, FC Vaduz and Dnipro-1
Group F: Gent, Molde, Shamrock Rovers and Djugarden
Group G: Slavia Praha, CFR Cluj, Sivasspor and Ballkani
Group H: Basel, Slovan Bratislava, Zalgiris and Pyunik
Mark McKenzie and Genk will have a good chance to advance from their group while if AZ Alkmaar can get out of the group stage fellow American Djordje Mihailovic who is heading from CF Montreal to the Netherlands in January will join him. West Ham United and Villarreal got favorable draws as they’d like to win the competition after being involved in Champions and Europa League last season. Storied Scottish side Hearts are returning to European competition for the first time since the 2016-17 season after also winning promotion back to the Scottish top flight. They’ll have a tough group with Istanbul Basaksehir and Fiorentina but clubs like Hearts in a league dominated by two teams are why the Conference League was created.
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