The five British teams in this season’s Europa League have discovered their fate for this season’s group stage, with the opponents for Manchester United, Arsenal, Wolves, Celtic and Rangers having been revealed in Friday’s draw.
2017 Europa League winners Manchester United will face a round-trip of over 7500 miles as they head to Kazakhstan to face FC Astana, who beat Champions League regulars Bate Borisov in the play-off round. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side otherwise face a relatively straightforward task in Group L, with Partizan Belgrade and Dutch side AZ Alkmaar their other opponents.
Arsenal meanwhile were handed a difficult test by being named in the same group as last season’s semi-finalists Eintracht Frankfurt, as Unai Emery looks to go one better after losing last season’s final to Chelsea. The North London side also face a trip to Belgium to face Standard Leige, whilst Portuguese side Vitória SC finish the quartet in Group F.
Having qualified for Europe for the first time since the 1980/81 season, Wolves will face Besiktas, SC Braga and SK Slovan Bratislava in Group K. Besiktas finished third in the Turkish Super Lig last season and have on-loan Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius amongst their ranks, while Braga were runners-up in 2011 and have featured regularly in this competition in recent seasons.
In a strange twist of fate, Scottish champions Celtic will face their Champions League conquerors CFR Cluj once again in a competitive looking Group E. The Hoops were eliminated from the Champions League qualifying rounds by the Romanian side earlier this season, losing 4-5 on aggregate after a thrilling second leg at Celtic Park.
Elsewhere in the group they will face a Lazio side who are amongst the bookmaker’s favourites to lift the trophy, whilst also meeting French side Stade Rennais who gave Arsenal a scare in last season’s round of 16.
Rangers were also handed a difficult looking group in Friday’s draw, with Steven Gerrard’s side set to face two-times European champions Porto in Group G. The Glasgow side will also meet Dutch opponents in Feyenoord and Swiss side Young Boys, and look to face a tough task in progressing to the knock-out stages.
Europa League group stage draw in full