The draw for the group stages of the 2017-18 Europa League took place in Monaco today. The 48 teams have been split into 12 four-team groups, and while such breath ensures that we get a quite wonderful spread of sides, it does also mean that the groups themselves aren’t always competitive.
Not that the Premier League’s two competitors will mind — both will be feeling fairly positive about their prospects. Arsenal have perhaps the trickier task in terms of travel, facing trips to BATE in Belarus and Red Star in Serbia, along with a slightly shorter jaunt to Köln. Everton haven’t got quite as much traveling to do but perhaps have tougher opponents: Group E will take them to Olympique Lyonnais in France and Atalanta in Italy, along with a fair old schlep to Cyprus to play Apollon.
AC Milan’s newly reinforced side have been given a relatively friendly draw in Group D, with Austria Wien and AEK Athens their most likely challengers. Lazio will take on Mario Balotelli’s Nice in Group K. And former winners Zenit have been drawn in Group L with La Liga side Real Sociedad.
Their Basque counterparts Athletic — beaten finalists in 2012 — will face off with Hertha Berlin in Group J. Hoffenheim, which took the Bundesliga by storm last season but collapsed to Liverpool in the Champions League playoff, have been drawn with Braga and Ludogorets in Group C. And Dynamo Kyiv have been drawn with Young Boys of Switzerland in Group B.
FC Steaua București
Red Star Belgrade