Tottenham, Anzhi grouped together in Europa League
MONACO (AP) — Tottenham was grouped with Anzhi Makhachkala and former champion Valencia was pitted against Swansea in Friday’s draw for the group stage of the Europa League.
Tottenham’s group also includes Norwegian side Tromso, which was chosen as the replacement for Besiktas in Europe’s second-tier competition after the Turkish team was banned by UEFA for fixing its victory in a domestic cup final in 2011.
In Group A, Swansea will take its growing contingent of Spanish players to face 2004 champion Valencia in its opening match. Europa League debutants Kuban Krasnodar and Saint Gallen are also in Group A.
“It’s a strong group, but we are Valencia and have big ambitions,” Valencia coach Miroslav Djukic said. “If you want to win this tournament you have to look to beat everyone. We are confident.”
APOEL was also added to the draw after being picked as the lucky loser to replace Fenerbahce, which lost its appeal against a two-year competition ban for match-fixing on Wednesday.
The Cypriot club was handed a tough group with Bordeaux, Eintracht Frankfurt and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Sevilla, which won the competition in 2006 and 2007, will face Estoril and Slovan Liberec as well as Freiburg, which had an impressive season in the Bundesliga last year.
“It’s a tough group, with big clubs such as Sevilla, but we are looking forward to it,” Freiburg president Fritz Keller said. “It’s great for our fans to have the chance to visit these places and watch Freiburg play abroad.”
Seven-time French champion Lyon was placed in a group with Real Betis, Guimaraes and Croatian side Rijeka.
Wigan, the English second-division club which won the FA Cup last season, was grouped with Rubin Kazan, Maribor and Zulte Waregem.
Shakhter Karagandy is the first team from Kazakhstan to participate in the group stage of a UEFA competition and was drawn with AZ Alkmaar, PAOK Thessaloniki and Maccabi Haifa, while newcomer Ludogorets Razgrad was grouped with PSV Eindhoven, Dinamo Zagreb and Chornomorets Odesa.
“For us, any group would have been tough and exciting because it is our first appearance in a European club competition group stage,” Shakhter Karagandy captain Andrey Finonchenko said. “We would have liked to have been drawn against such big sides as Lazio, Tottenham or Lyon, but it is going to be interesting. We will gain experience.”
Serie A clubs Fiorentina and Lazio have been handed relatively easy draws with the former facing Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Pacos Ferreira and Pandurii Targu Jiu, and the latter with Trabzonspor, Legia Warsaw and Apollon Limassol.
The first matches take place on Sept. 19.