Mac TA, Haifa handed favorable Europa League draws

Maccabi Tel Aviv is placed in Group F, while Haifa is placed in Group L.

MACCABI TEL AVIV striker Barak Itzhaki 370 (photo credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv website)
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 APOEL Nicosia.
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 12.
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.
Sevilla, which 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 Group H.
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.