Thursday it was the day to discover the groups of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League, and the same thing happened on Friday but for the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League. The 48 teams that made it to the Group Stage now know which sides they will face. The race to lift the title begins.
The reigning champions, Chelsea, won’t play since they have made it to the Champions League. Among the top sides, we can find Sevilla, Lazio, Arsenal, Manchester United, AS Roma and FC Porto. But anything can happen in this journey, as winning the title is not as easy as one would expect.
Which are the groups of the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League?
Group A: Sevilla, Apoel Nicosia, Qarabag, F91 Dudelange
Group B: Dynamo Kiev, FC Copenhagen, Malmo, Lugano
Group C: Basel, Krasnodar, Getafe, Trabzonspor
Group D: Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven, Rosenborg, Lask
Group E: Lazio, Celtic, Rennes, Cluj
Group F: Arsenal, Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege, Vitoria
Group G: Porto, Young Boys, Feyenoord, Rangers
Group H: CSKA Moscow, Ludogorets, Espanyol, Ferencvaros
Group I: Wolsfburg, Gent, Saint-Etienne, Olexandriya
Group J: Roma, Borussia Monchengladbach, Istanbul Basaksehir, Wolfsberger AC
Group K: Besiktas, Braga, Slovan Bratislava, Wolves
Group L: Manchester United, FC Astana, Partizan Belgrade, AZ Alkmaar
How did Scottish teams fare in the draw?
Celtic got tangled up in a tough group with one of the top contenders, as they will have to face Lazio, Rennes and Cluj. The Serie A giants will undoubtedly be a tough opponent, but don’t sleep on the other two, either. Let’s remember Cluj already knocked Celtic out of the Champions League qualifying stages. Meanwhile, Rennes will be a difficult side to play against due to their intensity and physicality. Even if they lost their biggest star – Ismaila Sarr – during the summer transfer window.
Rangers were squared into one of the toughest groups in the competition. Steven Gerrard’s men will have to play against two experienced sides – Porto and Feyenoord – as well as Swiss side BSC Young Boys. All three sides have been in the UEFA Champions League in recent years, and Young Boys even played against Manchester United last season. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Rangers end up in last place of this group given the strength of the opposition.
What about the English sides?
Arsenal shouldn’t have issues during the group stage, as they will take on Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege, and Vitoria. The Bundesliga outfit appears to be the toughest contender, but they are not the same squad from last season that used to terrorize opposing defences with their duo of Sebastien Haller and Luka Jovic. Meanwhile, both Standard and Vitoria are several echelons below Arsenal and shouldn’t represent much of a threat.
The Wolves were arguably one of the biggest surprises in the 2018-19 Premier League season, and they breezed their way towards the UEFA Europa League this term. Led by Raul Jimenez and Ruben Neves, the Molineux outfit now will have to face Besiktas, Braga, and Slovan Bratislava in the group stage. At least on paper, they shouldn’t have issues to reach the next stage of the tournament. The Turkish side appear to be their most complicated opponent, but not enough to say they could become a threat on the battle for the top spot.
Finally, we have Manchester United. The Red Devils are one of the most heralded sides in the competition, and should begin the tournament as title favourites. They will have a relatively easy group stage, taking on FC Astana, Partizan Belgrade, and AZ Alkmaar. AZ are the toughest opponent on paper, but United shouldn’t overlook the other two rivals. Playing Astana involves a nine-plus-hour flight, and that is not easy. Meanwhile, everybody knows what it means to play on Serbian soil. Just ask Liverpool last season.
Which group is the toughest on the competition?
Unlike the Champions League where there is a huge gap between the title contenders and the other sides, things are far more even in the UEFA Europa League. But arguably, the toughest group in the 2019/20 edition will be Group D. It will feature Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven, Rosenborg, and Lask.
Lask might look like the weaker link on the group, but don’t sleep on the Austrian side to pull an upset or two. Meanwhile, the other three teams are evenly matched on paper. PSV might get a slight edge due to the quality of their squad, but they should be considerably weakened after the loss of Hirving Lozano this summer. Sporting Lisbon lost Bas Dost, but they still have Bruno Fernandes on their team. And Rosenborg are a side that’s always tough to play against.
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