There was an air of cautious optimism amongst the coaches about to embark on the first UEFA Europa League campaign as uefa.com gauged the reaction to Friday's group-stage draw in Monaco.
Group A: AFC Ajax, RSC Anderlecht, NK Dinamo Zagreb, FC Timişoara
Martin Jol, Ajax coach
It could have been worse, but also a bit better. All these teams have played in the Champions League qualifying rounds so they did not finish fifth or sixth in their leagues. Anderlecht is nice and close while Dinamo Zagreb we know from a few years ago. I don't know what has happened in Romanian football, but they all play very well.
Group B: Valencia CF, LOSC Lille Métropole, SK Slavia Praha, Genoa CFC
Unai Emery, Valencia coach
It's a hard group but we'll be giving our all as we have big ambitions in the Europa League. We're well informed on Lille, who play good football and who have very strong players. Genoa are an experienced team who have started strongly in Serie A and have players of the highest quality like Hernán Crespo. Perhaps the least well known to us is Slavia, the side that knocked out FK Crvena Zvezda with some authority in the last round and competed in the UEFA Champions League two years ago.
Rudi Garcia, Lille coach
We have been drawn in a group with high-level opposition from major domestic leagues. Although it will be hard, I think we can qualify for the next stage. It is also very exciting and a learning experience for my players, who will gain a lot of experience by playing in stadiums as great as the Mestalla.
Group C: Hamburger SV, Celtic FC, Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC, SK Rapid Wien
Bruno Labbadia, Hamburg coach
The group promises exciting and attractive matches. You don't have to say much about Celtic, and Rapid sensationally knocked out Aston Villa. Of course, it's our goal to survive the group stage. It could have been easier, but it could have been more difficult as well. These are top opponents and interesting trips.
Tony Mowbray, Celtic manager
It's a tough draw. I saw Hamburg play Manchester City last year and they were a very good, attack-minded side. They are strong in the German league. I watched Rapid Vienna put out Aston Villa. To beat a top-six Premier League team shows they are not bad. It's quite exciting. I'm looking forward to it.
Group D: Sporting Clube de Portugal, SC Heerenveen, Hertha BSC Berlin, FK Ventspils
Pedro Barbosa, Sporting sporting director
I'm very pleased. It was a good draw for us. We will face the group stage with confidence and believe we can go through. Hertha are very impressive and although the others are not that strong they still deserve our respect.
Nunzio Zavettieri, Ventspils coach
I wouldn't call this mission impossible. We are certainly not favourites but we are capable of upsetting a few of our opponents. On a personal level, it would have been nice to play against an Italian side but in Sporting, Heerenveen and Hertha we have been paired with teams from strong European leagues. Their calibre is beyond doubt.
Group E: AS Roma, FC Basel 1893, Fulham FC, PFC CSKA Sofia
Roy Hodgson, Fulham manager
I'm happy with it – Basel and Roma are fantastic teams. We knew that whichever group we got we'd have tough matches. We were more concerned that we didn't get into a group which sent us to places that were not the best places to go to. It will be nice to go to Basel. When I was with the [Swiss] national team they were still in the second division. They only achieved promotion after I left in 1995, but it's a fantastic stadium and a fantastic city.
Thorsten Fink, Basel coach
Roma will be very strong and are clear favourites and, of course, we're looking forward to playing Fulham to see Pascal Zuberbühler and Roy Hodgson again. Being German I wouldn't have minded a Bundesliga side, but I'm pleased with the draw. It's difficult, but attractive and will not provide any travel problems. We have an outside chance of going through.
Group F: Panathinaikos FC, Galatasaray SK, FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti, SK Sturm Graz
Franco Foda, Sturm Graz coach
Anything is possible. Galatasaray and Panathinaikos have been playing in the Champions League for years now – if they aren't attractive opponents, who are? We went through against Kharkiv so I'm optimistic we will pick up points.
Group G: Villarreal CF, S.S. Lazio, PFC Levski Sofia, FC Salzburg
Ernesto Valverde, Villarreal coach
We could have been a bit luckier. It's a very difficult group. Lazio were one of the teams everyone wanted to avoid while Levski and Salzburg are champions of their respective domestic leagues, and come into this competition from the UEFA Champions League play-off round. The UEFA Europa League is a tournament Villarreal have invested a lot of expectation in and we hope to go far. No matter who our rivals are we have to have high hopes.
Huub Stevens, Salzburg coach
This is a difficult, if attractive group. I hope people in Austria will be realistic about our chances. There really are some strong sides in the Europa League.
Group H: FC Steaua Bucureşti, Fenerbahçe SK, FC Twente, FC Sheriff
Semih Şentürk, Fenerbahçe striker
It's a nice draw. Our most difficult opponent will be Steaua, and Twente are a good team from Holland. We know Sheriff from their encounter with our city rivals Beşiktaş [in 2007/08 UEFA Champions League qualifying]. Last season we had a big disappointment in the UEFA Champions League. We want to bounce back this year under new coach Christoph Daum. Our fans have big expectations and we hope to match them.
Stanislav Namaşco, Sheriff goalkeeper
Obviously it would have been nice to play a big club like Roma or Bremen, but our opponents also have famous names. Fenerbahçe are very strong with number of well-known players like Roberto Carlos and Daniel Güiza. Steaua are another famous name, while Twente were runners-up in the Netherlands last season, finishing ahead of the likes of AFC Ajax and PSV Eindhoven. It will be difficult, but Sheriff have already proved we are ready to make the step up.
Group I: Everton FC, SL Benfica, AEK Athens FC, FC BATE Borisov
David Moyes, Everton manager
I'm happy enough with the draw and I'm pleased to be in it. Going to Athens is a longer journey than you'd probably like, but it's a couple of nice places for the supporters to go and see and a couple of good games for us all so we're looking forward to it.
Viktor Goncharenko, Borisov coach
We wanted to broaden our experience and the draw has given us the chance to as we have never played against English, Portuguese or Greek clubs before. It will be very interesting. Of course, it's not an easy group and I wouldn't like to speak about our chances at this stage.
Group J: FC Shakhtar Donetsk, Club Brugge KV, FK Partizan, Toulouse FC
Adrie Koster, Club Brugge coach
Shakhtar won the UEFA Cup, so it's a difficult group – but we certainly have a chance. We might have wished for other opponents, but on the other hand all the clubs who reached the group stage are strong or they would not be there.
Alain Casanova, Toulouse coach
It's a tough group, but maybe not as tough as some of the others. Shakhtar will be favourites and Club Brugge and Partizan should be taken seriously too, but we have a real chance of qualifying for the Round of 32.
Group K: PSV Eindhoven, FC København, AC Sparta Praha, CFR 1907 Cluj
Fred Rutten, PSV coach
This is a group with possibilities, but we have to develop a bit more as these are different opponents to the ones we have played before. We have to analyse these opponents more closely.
Group L: Werder Bremen, FK Austria Wien, Athletic Club Bilbao, CD Nacional
Thomas Schaaf, Bremen coach
We want good results in this group, to assert ourselves; that has to be our goal. On paper, we must be the favourites. We will be full of confidence, but not careless in approaching this task.
Joaquín Caparrós, Athletic coach
This is a wonderful group with some historic teams like Werder Bremen and Austria Wien. All the teams pose tricky obstacles, but we've got a chance of getting through. The important thing for us is that our stadium – San Mamés – will once again see European football on Thursday nights, and that's a prize for both players and supporters.
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