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Europa League group stage teams are set

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Next will come the draw for groups.

Valencia v Villarreal - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final : Second Leg
Alfonso Pedraza in our last Europa League match—at the Mestalla, April 2019.
Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

We now know the teams that will be playing in the 2020-2021 Europa League Group stage. The 48 teams will now be placed in 4 different pots before the draw tomorrow.

Here are some observations:

(1) Villarreal are in pot 1 (well, we already knew they would be). The team to avoid in pot 2 is Leicester City—remember, the teams are seeded according to historical performances in Europe so a club like Leicester that didn’t do much before the last few years will always be underseeded. (This bit us when we had to play Monaco, who had won the French league the year before, to qualify for the CL group stage. Just saying).

(2) Granada made it, so there are three Spanish teams in the draw. As for other “main leagues”:

2 Portugal (Benfica and Braga, both in Pot 1)

2 Italy (Napoli and Roma, both in Pot 1)

3 England (Tottenham and Arsenal in Pot 1, Leicester in Pot 2)

3 Netherlands (PSV, Pot 1; AZ and Feyonoord, Pot 3)

2 France (Little and Nice, both Pot 4)

3 Belgium (Gent, Pot 1; Standard Liege, pot 2; Antwerp, pot 4).

Other than that, Molde (Norway, Pot 3) is the only Scandanavian side to make it; there are a lot of what those of us of a certain age still think of as “Eastern European” sides. Ireland’s Dundalk (pot 4) and Scotland’s Rangers (Pot 3) are there, and so too three Austrian teams, including Rapid Vienna, whom we’ve played before.

Only one Turkish club, Sivasspor (Pot 4). Astana didn’t make it this time but we could still have a long trip to face Karabakh/Qarabag (Pot 2) if we’re drawn against them.

Best draw? Probably something like Standard Liege from pot 2, Austria’s LASK from Pot 3 and Dundalk from Group 4, just trying to balance ease of travel with interest and opponent.

Worst? Leicester City from group 2, AC Milan from Group 3, and Sivasspor from group 4, just because of the travel being more than most.

Zach will cover the draw tomorrow and let everyone know who our opponents are! Endavant!!!