Europa League Draw 2013: Full Group Stage Released and Predictions
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The Europa League group draw is now complete, and some teams are inevitably happier than others. Seven of the 48 teams made their way to this stage via immediate qualification, and nine arrived via Champions League playoff losses. The rest had to fight their way through Europa League playoffs.
Surprises among this year's entrants include Championship side Wigan, who upset Manchester City in the 2012 FA Cup final, and the reinstatement of APOEL F.C. after Fenerbahce's two-year European ban was upheld.
Sevilla will be among the favourites, although Premier League Tottenham Hotspur will also fancy their chances to make a run at the cup.
Whatever happens, it looks like another year of tough competition and thrilling matches. Let's go to the results, examine the groups and choose potential victors in each one.
All draw results courtesy of UEFA.com.
2013-14 Europa League Groups
Group A is already a tough group. Valencia are likely to emerge winners, while Swansea will be left to fight for second place with Kuban and St. Gallen. Michael Laudrup should steer his side through, but don't be surprised to see an upset here.
PSV will be pretty happy with their draw and expect to safely navigate this stage of the competition. Dinamo Zagreb should make it through in second place.
Standard Liege and Salzburg are the most recognised teams here, and Group C should proceed as planned for both those sides. No surprises here.
Group D sees Wigan face off against Russian, Slovenian and Belgian sides, and they won't be too disappointed with their draw. A lot will depend on their league form, though, so it will still be a spectacular achievement for them to progress through to the next stage of the competition.
Fiorentina head up Group E and will be happy with the way things turned out for them. They currently sit in sixth place in Serie A with a first-game win under their belts, so there will be some celebrating in Florence tonight.
Eintracht Frankfurt are no pushovers, so Group F may be a little tougher than it initially seems. Bordeaux remain favourites, but there should be some good matches here.
Dynamo Kyiv will look to advance with consistent wins, facing off against Belgian Cup winners Genk, Rapid Wien and Thun.
Sevilla have managed to avoid a particularly difficult path to the next stage, with Bundesliga side Freiburg off to a rocky start this year. The competition will truly start for them after they get out of this group.
Lyon have had some troubles already this year and are currently trying to hold onto their players, with Bafetimbi Gomis being linked by The Chronicle's Lee Ryder with a move to Newcastle. They may be able to persuade him to stay with the offer of Europa League football—as well as showing him tape of Newcastle's recent performances, obviously.
Lazio will aim to keep the Italian flag flying high by escaping from this group in style, but Turkish side Trabzonspor will not simply roll over. This group could be ripe for an upset.
Tottenham will feel they could have done much better than being placed in a group with Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala. They will do very well to get out of here as champions of their group—especially without Gareth Bale—so there is likely to be a very difficult tie awaiting them in the next round.
Dutch side AZ Alkmaar had to battle both fire and their opponents in their playoff game against Atromitos, as a blaze within their ground forced the final 33 minutes of the tie to be played Friday morning. They should be the favourites to progress as winners here, but don't discount PAOK, who lost to Schalke in the Champions League playoff.
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