When you hire Unai Emery, the expectation of going very far in the Europa League comes naturally. The manager has won the competition three times with Sevilla, and also made the final during his time at Arsenal. This competition has become something of a natural home for Villarreal in recent years as well, but we’ve never won it. Hopefully that will all change this season.
Qarabag FK- The Azerbaijani side has a bit of history in European competition, and were the first side from their nation to ever reach the Champions League group stages back in 2017. In that group stage they were drawn with Chelsea, Roma, and Atletico Madrid, the last of which they drew twice. They’ve won their league every year since 2014, and will bring a lot of confidence into their two matches with us.
Maccabi Tel Aviv- Thanks to the oddities of global geopolitics, Israeli sides compete in UEFA. Maccabi Tel Aviv is the most decorated team in their nation, as well as being the oldest club. They’ve made the Champions League Group Stage twice, This will be a tough away day but I think they will likely be the weakest side in our group.
Sivasspor- Our third opponent hails from Turkey, where they finished fourth last season. This will be their first European group stage in their history.
Other Spanish Draws:
Granada: PSV, PAOK, Omonoia
Real Sociedad: Napoli, AZ, Rijeka
This is a group we should advance from without too much issue, but do not overreact if we drop some points in this group, particularly on away days. We have three very tough places to travel to, and we cannot just assume that those trips will have no impact on our players.
The Group Stage Matchday One begins on October 22nd.