MACCABI TEL AVIV striker Barak Itzhaki 370.
(photo credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv website)
Despite being among the lower seeds in Friday’s Europa League draw in Monaco,
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa will enter the group stage believing in their
chances of progressing to the knockout rounds.
Tel Aviv, which parachuted
to the Europa league following its Champions League exit, was handed the tougher
draw, being placed in Group F with Girodins de Bordeaux, Eintracht Frankfurt and
While Tel Aviv’s draw is difficult yet not impossible,
Haifa will be quietly confident of advancing to the Round of 32 after being
placed in Group L with AZ of the Netherlands, PAOK Thessaloniki and Shakhter
Karagandy of Kazakhstan.
“We didn’t receive an easy draw, but you don’t
get easy draws at these stages of European competitions,” said Tel Aviv coach
Paulo Sousa, whose side was gifted a place in the group stage following Metalist
Kharkiv’s expulsion. “We have a chance to get our campaign off on the right foot
when we face Nicosia at home.”
The group stage will begin on September
19, with the sixth and the final match to be played on December
Tottenham Hotspur, which has splurged over 65 million pounds ($100
million) on new talent, was drawn in the same group as Anzhi Makhachkala, the
Russian club which has been selling off its players.
Anzhi put its entire
first team squad up for sale after its billionaire owner cut the club’s budget,
triggering an exodus of expensively acquired players.
Group K opponent
Spurs, which had been linked with Anzhi’s Brazilian playmaker Willian before he
joined Chelsea instead along with the Russian club’s Cameroon striker Samuel
Eto’o, has brought in several new faces.
Tottenham has already broken its
transfer record twice with the signings of Spain striker Roberto Soldado and
Brazil midfielder Paulinho amid media reports that its Wales forward Gareth Bale
will join Real Madrid in a world record deal.
Former European champion
PSV Eindhoven was drawn in Group B alongside Croatian champion Dinamo Zagreb,
Ukraine’s Chornomorets Odessa and Bulgaria’s Ludogorets.
won back-toback UEFA Cups – the predecessor to the Europa League – in 2006 and
2007 will face Germany’s Freiburg, Portugal’s Estoril and Czech side Liberec in
Holder Chelsea and last season’s runner-up Benfica are competing
in the Champions League.
There are 48 clubs across 12 groups. Group
winners and runners-up advance to the knockout stage where they will be joined
by eight thirdplaced teams from the Champions League group stage. The final will
staged in Turin, Italy, in May.Reuters contributed to this report.