The Europa League group draw is Friday; the group phase includes 48 teams (12 groups of four teams apiece). Villarreal will be a first seed.
The only rules are that teams from the same league can’t play each other, but other than that, anything is fair game. Two of the four clubs in each group make it out of the group stage, but winning the group does give some advantages in the knockout stage draw.
Villarreal made it to the semifinals last time after finishing second in their group; in 2010-11 they got to the semis after winning their group.
The second seeds include Braga, Fenerbahce, Roma, Red Bull Salzburg, and Sparta Prague; I know Sidarth will be hoping we’re drawn with St. Etienne, also in this group of clubs.
The third group includes Zurich, Rapid Vienna, Austria Vienna, and Southampton; the fourth group has Astana, who we played a couple of years ago, in it, as well as Sassuolo and Nice.
Let’s hope for a favorable draw—avoid tough travel and avoid tough teams to play!