On to the 2014-15 Europa League group stage! Villarreal won 0-3 in Kazakhstan despite the long voyage, and after a league-opening 0-2 victory away to Levante, the Yellow Submarine 'B' team took care of business 4-0 at El Madrigal. Three matches, three clean sheets.
Now we pick up significantly more experienced and superior opposition, albeit less distant. Here are the pots for the Europa League draw courtesy of MarcadorInt. The draw begins at 7 am Eastern Time.
Favorable draw: Easier away trips. We know what a bad draw looks like -- see below. A good draw involves less travel and lower-ranked leagues. For example, Greece and Turkey are difficult places to play, but their teams don't travel well, and the leagues are generally down.
Unfavorable draw: Wolfsburg/Gladbach; Everton; Dynamo/Krasnodar. Three important leagues, including the two most powerful financially. And potentially the team that eliminated Real Sociedad in the playoff round. We have positive knockout history with Everton (Champions League qualifier, 2005) and negative with Wolfsburg (Europa League round of 32, 2010). You may remember Pierluigi Collina and Edin Dzeko, respectively.
The possibilities are endless -- we'll have some resolution and look ahead in a few hours' time. What do you think? Share your opinions in the comments. Endavant!