UEFA Europa League-Group stage draw-Monaco - Friday 31 August 2012 13.00CET




Tiago and the UEFA Europa League trophyWith that it is time to bring the DrawCentre to a close. Any transfers involving UEFA Europa League sides ahead of this evening's deadline are in our news blog and follow holders Atlético's UEFA Super Cup fixture with Chelsea FC in Monaco from 20.45 CET.
The fixtures are in and are here: Opening day (20 September) includes Fenerbahçe v Marseille, Udinese v Anzhi, Inter v Rubin, and Spurs v Lazio.
UEFA Europa League group stage draw resultsThe draw as it was displayed in Monaco.
Quico Catalán, Levante president: "This is a historic day for our club and our fans. It's quite emotional when you start to think about it. To be in that room [where the draw was made] with people from so many historic clubs and for Levante to be in the draw represented a great success. Pride and honour are the words I would use. Whatever group we had been drawn in would have been an attractive one for us as we are new to the competition. We want to compete well and to represent Spanish football as best as we can. We will be humble knowing of the difficulty every opponent represents. Hannover and Twente are very attractive clubs. I don't know Helsingborg that well but I am sure they have a good record. I am also certain that for all of them Levante will represent an unknown quantity because we have never competed in Europe before. We have six games ahead of us and here's hoping we do well."
"I'm quite happy with the draw." said Molde coach Ole Gunnar Solskjær. He was on a flight from Groningen to Bergen with the Molde entourage when the draw was made, and got the flight captain to check the outcome. The biggest cheer came when FC København was drawn. "It will be great to pit ourselves against Scandinavian opponents. We gave Stuttgart a good game a few years ago, while we need to learn more about Steaua."
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk coach Juande Ramos: "You can't choose your opponents yourself. You just have to accept the draw. We understand that PSV and Napoli are strong European sides who every season play in either the Champions League or Europa League. They are favorites in this group. But Dnipro and AIK have something to say as well. We'll have a good 'talk' on the field. I believe we're the third best team in the group, so the seedings were fair enough. Hovewer our goal is to finish first or second and go through to the play-offs."
The draw has sent Videoton defender Marco Caneira back to old club Sporting. " It feels nice to come back to Lisbon and face Sporting, where I played for so many years and still have many friends," he said. "But the most important thing for us is to show all of Europe the reason why we are in this group stage. Everything is possible. We are a very strong team tactically and we will certainly fight for qualification."
Rubin Kazan forward Sergey Davydov: "Everybody is saying we are in a weak group, but I can't agree. I think we have a more or less even section, with all four teams having equal chances of qualifying. I try to follow Internazionale Milano, they are a big club with a number of trophies. I have heard about FK Partizan as well, they regularly play in European competitions. I played against Neftçi PFK in a mid-season friendly, they have a good solid squad. I am satisfied with the draw in general. We have what we have. We could not affect the results anyway."
Pedro Martins, Marítimo coach: "We have to consider the possibility the we have chances to go through the next stage. At first, there should be two difficult opponents as we predicted [Bordeaux and Newcastle]. Brugge may be at our level."
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew: "The teams are of the standard you would expect in Europe so it's a toughish group, not the toughest by any means but not the weakest so it's a test for us. I'm pleased [Newcastle have never played Bordeaux, Club Brugge or Marítimo]. It's always nice for a football club to do something different and our fans will enjoy that."
Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin: "We wanted to play in the Champions League, and here we are: this is a Europa League group but it looks like if it was the Champions League. Just like last season, there's not much to add."

Striker Antonio Di Natale agrees: "This is a very difficult group, these are world-class clubs and it's definitely going to be difficult, but we will give everything we have."

Defender Maurizio Domizzi added: "There are two very strong teams and also Young Boys are now a familiar name in Europe; I think that our destiny will also depend on the moment when we will face our opponents and on our opponents' condition."
Club Brugge coach Georges Leekens: "It is a special draw and certainly not the easiest group. We reached the group stage, which was an important objective for us, but now we obviously will do our best to make it a nice trip. We will play against very different teams. French football, English football, Portuguese… Every football lover knows that the quality level of those football nations is high. Newcastle ended fifth in Premier League, which is the same as ending up champions in a lesser competition. Bordeaux and Marítimo play technical football, and are serious opponents."
PSV Eindhoven coach Dick Advocaat: "This is an interesting draw. Napoli are the best known opponents of course, a nice one. We don't know so much about the others yet. Ola Toivonen knows AIK well. But we will only talk about that later. We do not know much now, but later on we will know everything about our opponents."
Mönchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl: "Marseille are a French club with lots of tradition and international renown. This will be a big challenge for us. But I think we can match that. A cauldron will await us at Fenerbahçe. It will be important to be successful in the home matches, but we also want to prevail in Istanbul. And AEL are the unknown quantity in the group. Especially those seemingly smaller opponents can be very dangerous."
Twente midfielder Wout Brama: "It absolutely could have been worse. [The club's youth coach and making the draw as Amsterdam final ambassador] Patrick Kluivert did a good service to us! At a draw I always hope for nice opponents and for sides we have not met yet. And that has now happened. The most important thing is that we have a group with opportunities to go through. In Europa League, we always have that possibility, which was proven in the recent years. We weren’t in Pot 1 for no reason. But it will not be easy. Hannover were a very good team last year, while Levante are a very technical team, like all Spanish sides. In theory Helsingborg are the least strong opponent, but that says nothing yet."
Lazio coach Vladimir Petković: "We could not pick our opponents ourselves, but we are happy to face interesting teams like Panathinaikos and Tottenham, it will be nice for our fans. For sure it's a very competitive group: Tottenham have been among the best teams in the Premier League for a few years now, Panathinaikos are a force in Greek football and were unlucky not to qualify for the Champions League, while Maribor are a team I watched playing recently against Dinamo Zagreb and they played a great game. Still I think we have good chance to qualify if we give it 100%,. Facing these good teams will help us to grow."
Metalist Kharkiv coach Myron Markevich said: "I went for a bike ride and did not see the draw live. Let's say it is not the worst group for us. I think Metalist have to qualify. We can compete with any team in our section, even with Bayer Leverkusen, who defeated us convincingly a couple of years ago. We have a different team now, the same goes for the Germans. We have a chance to get a revenge. Rosenborg were UEFA Champions League regulars. Finally we have often played in Vienna though never met Rapid Wien. It will be interesting to face them."
Inter ambassador Luís Figo has talked about today’s draw: “To be in Europe, whatever the competition, is always an honour, that’s why we have to do everything we can to win the Europa League this season. Our group is tough, especially because we will have to travel long distances for our away matches, but honestly I don’t think we’re going to have major problems. In the play-offs we proved we have a strong personality even with ten men, and that’s why we are here today. Of course we can and must improve.”
Carlos Henrique, Bordeaux defender : "It's a good draw, especially regarding Newcastle and Marítimo, who are good teams. Brugge I don't know that much. But I think we'll go through."
Staying with Sweden, and AIK were received by hundreds of fans at Stockholm Arlanda airport around noon local time following their elimination of PFC CSKA Moskva. After the draw had been made, Daniel Tjernström told Expressen: "It's going to be really exciting and the matches will be tough." Central defender Niklas Backman compared the teams in Group F with AIK's most recent opponents: "None of the teams in the group are better than CSKA Moskva."
Helsingborg was the very last team to be picked in the draw and midfielder Mattias Lindström told Expressen: "It was like playing Lotto with only one number left on the coupon. Draws are always fun when your own team is involved in them. The draw was okay. Group J might have been the most fun, but in sporting terms we have a decent chance and it was OK in terms of interest too. I'm pleased."
Falcao and Gianni Infantino at the UEFA Europa League group stage drawAtlético striker Falcao, who 'retained' the trophy last season having won it in 2011 with FC Porto, helped make the draw and it is he that Hapoel Tel-Aviv coach Nitzan Shirazi is excited to be facing: "To play against the holders, with a great striker like Falcao in the Vicente Calderón Stadium, it's a peak in a career every player wants to reach."
FCK defender Kris Stadsgaard told bold.dk: "All the groups are strong, but at first sight I think we have got a fine draw, and our obvious goal is to go on from the group. It would have been, no matter what group we had landed in, as our ambitions are high, but in this specific group I find our chances to be good. I would say that it is better to meet Stuttgart than some of the other big teams who were in Pot 1. However, Stuttgart are also a really great team with a lot of high-quality players such as William Kvist [Stadsgaard´s former FCK team-mate]."
Steaua striker Raul Rusescu: "Obviously it is a very balanced group. VfB Stuttgart are very strong. While I played for Unirea Urziceni, I played against them in the Champions League group stage and I realised that away matches there are most difficult. FC København have become a notable name in Europe in recent years and lost two very tight legs against Lille in the Champions League play-offs. What can I say about Molde, a team which won 4-1 on aggregate versus Heerenveen? It is clear that they are very strong. And let's not forget how Heerenveen eliminated Rapid Bucureşti before playing Molde. But we will have to be the best and qualify,."
Patrick Kluivert at the UEFA Europa League drawAmsterdam final ambassador Patrick Kluivert draws out Napoli.
Neftçi, who took out last season's UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists APOEL in the play-offs, are the first side from Azerbaijan to play in a group stage and have a plum group. Coach Boyukagha Hajiyev said: "I believe Neftçi are in better shape than our opponents. We know a lot about Internazionale and Rubin, we'll find information about Partizan. On the other hand, they know nothing about us. I don't want to exaggerate, yet I really believe that we'll fight for one of two top spots.". Neftçi captain Rashad A. Sadygov added: "We are not going to stop here. Of course, it's a historic achievement to reach the group stage. Actually I was thinking before the draw that we'll get Inter. Right now it looks like Partizan are the easiest opponents for us. Yet they're Serbian champions... We know how strong Rubin are. They have a great coach who has worked in Kazan for a long time. Interesting matches are coming..."
Elie Baup, Marseille coach, is relishing a "quality draw with hot, beautiful stadiums and beautiful atmospheres. Mönchengladbach and Fenerbahçe are two high quality teams that narrowly missed Champions League group stage berths. Our Europa League opponents know how demanding European football is".
Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Völler: "In Kharkiv and Rosenborg we are meeting two teams against which we have already played in the past. We have had positive experiences there. We are of course especially looking forward to playing our Austrian neighbours [Rapid]. We have to reach the next round, that is our minimum goal. We want to win the group, then we will take it from round to round."
Newly-acquired Panathinaikos defensive midfielder Pape Sow, who misses the league match tonight against PAS Giannina though injury and thus was available for comment on the draw, said: “Both Tottenham and Lazio are big European clubs. The London side especially is not the best draw we could hope for. As for Maribor, I don’t know them that well, but to have reached the group stage of the competition means that they are good. Everything is possible in football. Why not defeat both Tottenham and Lazio? Our [UEFA Champions League] ties against Málaga are in the past. We look ahead now. We will do our best to qualify to the knock out stage and go as far as possible in the competition."
Abdullah Kiğılı, Fenerbahçe vice-president, said: "I think we’re in the best group we can be. Olympique de Marseille and Borussia Mönchengladbach were once one of their best teams of their domestic leagues. But today they are not better than us. We’ll even be stronger once the squad is settled very soon. We have one more advantage as well. In Germany and France, there are many Turkish fans who will support us. In particular the match against Mönchengladbach will not be an away game for us. We aim to advance into the later rounds of the competition. I can even say that we set our target as winning the UEFA Europa League trophy. "
Kiryat Shmona coach Gili Landau, in with Lyon, Athletic and Sparta Praha, said: "After seeing the draw I'd rather be pessimistic in my evaluation and optimistic in practice."
Rapid Wein are in with Leverkusen, Metalist and Rosenborg, and captain Steffen Hofmann said: "It is a difficult draw, Leverkusen and Kharkiv are very strong. Beating Rosenborg is possible, but it will be very difficult. Surely, there are other groups that would have been more interesting. But I am glad we are in the competition." Coach Peter Schöttel added: "We were in Pot 4, we are the outsiders in this group. It is an interesting group. A German-Austrian duel is always appealing. The group is very difficult and very attractive. If we are spared injuries then our squad will be fine. We will continue to give chances to our young players."
José María Amorrortu, Athletic sporting director: "We have been drawn in a very attractive group with Lyon and Sparta Praha who have a lot of international experience. We will look to confront the section with the same spirit as we did last season and just like last year we are full of hope."
John Leonidou in Cyprus
AEL Limassol goalkeeper Matias Degra told UEFA.com that he is “looking forward to the experience” as his side prepare to take on Marseille, Fenerbahçe and Borussia Mönchengladbach in Group C: “Our whole campaign in the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds was an experience and we are now looking forward to the experience in the UEFA Europa League. Football games are won on the pitch and not through club names and so we will be giving our all when we play them. This competition is new to us so we are all really excited about the prospect of playing teams from France, Turkey and Germany. There were some other groups out there that would have been better for us to be drawn into but we have no complaints. That’s football.”
UEFA Europa League group stage draw hallThe impressive stage set at the Grimaldi Forum.
Draw done and dusted: reaction and fixture list to follow soon. Group A looking mighty tough...
Tiago Mendes has returned the trophy on behalf of Atlético.
The ceremony has begun, a montage of last season's action being shown.
Almost showtime in Monaco.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, whose club were the first from France to win the UEFA Women's Champions League over the last two seasons, is now aiming to repeat the trick on the men's side. "We're not in the [men's] Champions League this season and for the first time in a while, but the Europa League is a genuine goal for our team," he said. "To be the first French team to win it would be magical."
Paul Bryan in Spain
Daily publication Levante El Mercantil Valenciano captures the mood of the region this morning after the Granotes, or the Frogs, secured their passage through to the UEFA Europa League for the first time at the expense of Motherwell FC. "From the very first hours of yesterday morning in the markets of Cabanyal to the Ciutat de València stadium last night, Levantismo [all of those connected with Levante UD] felt pride in knowing the [UEFA] Europa League flag was flying in the Azulgrana's ground." Midfielder Miguel Pallardó, meanwhile, offered his thoughts on what would be a historic day for the club ahead of today's draw. "I'll be settling down with my family and a bowl of popcorn to watch it," the 25-year-old said. "Let's hope we get some rivals we can enjoy playing against and that the fans can look forward to seeing. We want to give a good showing of ourselves in Europe. [Personally, I would like] to come up against a historical team like Liverpool FC. That's a game that would really get our supporters in the mood."
UEFA Europa League clubs, Grimaldi ForumThe club badges displayed in Monaco.
Sam Adams (@UEFAcomSamA) at Grimaldi Forum
Club officials are arriving at the Grimaldi Forum. This is their greeting as they enter the draw hall http://pic.twitter.com/YXkqzYBH
Giant UEFA Europa League match ball, Grimaldi ForumLess than one hour to go...
Roberta Radaelli in Italy La Gazzetta dello Sport have set the four Serie A sides involved in today's draw – FC Internazionale Milano, SSC Napoli, Udinese Calcio and S.S. Lazio – with the objective of still being in Europe come spring."Atlético, [Samuel] Eto'o and Liverpool: Watch out Italy." It adds: "Our four teams will have to change the Italian mentality; it won't be enough to just do well in the league."
Paul-Daniel Zaharia in Romania
Romania's sole representative, FC Steaua Bucureşti, say the competition starts now after completing a 5-0 aggregate victory over FK Ekranas. "Eliminating Ekranas was standard stuff; we don't have any reason to celebrate yet," said coach Laurenţiu Reghecampf. "My aim is to reach the knockout stages and I don't really care against who we play in the groups - our team is strong enough to qualify."

Newspaper Pro Sport issued the rallying cry, leading with the headline 'Ready for the marching! Now the battle begins'. Gazeta Sporturilior is calmer, more sedate: "The circus is over. Steaua again had fun against Ekranas. It was the last easy match of the season; the UEFA Europa League starts now for Steaua."
There are 25 countries represented in the group stage draw, from Azerbaijan to Ukraine. Spain, France and Portugal each have three sides but Germany and Italy have the most representatives with four.
Celebrations (Sporting Clube de Portugal)José Nuno Pimentel in Portugal
The press here have been hailing the fact that Portugal have managed to get three teams into the group stage, with Sporting Clube de Portugal and CS Marítimo last night joining automatic qualifiers A. Académica de Coimbra. Indeed, Sporting's 5-0 demolition of AC Horsens was their first win in four attempts this season. 'Lions sate hunger' is the headline in Record; A Bola lead with 'We are alive'.
Paolo Menicucci in Italy
FC Internazionale Milano full-back Yuto Nagatomo is setting his sights high after overcoming illness, a first-half dismissal and eventually SC Vaslui yesterday. "I had flu on the eve of the game but fortunately I felt well enough to play," he explained. "When we went down to ten men [after goalkeeper Luca Castellazzi was sent off] I tried to focus on defending; the whole team did a great job to remain compact.

"We survived a few scares and managed to qualify for the group stage so now we want to go all the way. We want to win this Europa League." Inter twice came from behind to draw 2-2 on the night, 4-2 on aggregate.
Berend Scholten
PSV Eindhoven have cause to be feared after rattling nine unanswered goals past FK Zeta on Thursday, with Georginio Wijnaldum and Tim Matavž helping themselves to hat-tricks as the hosts completed a 14-0 aggregate triumph. "The team performed to their potential," said coach Dick Advocaat. "We wanted to improve on the first leg and we did that; to score nine goals is a bonus. It also gave players who don't normally feature a chance to get involved. It was a very useful exercise."

With next May's final at the Amsterdam ArenA, PSV have added motivation to go all the way this season. The showpiece would represent just a 120km journey north for their fans, and it is little further for FC Twente, KRC Genk and VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach. That said, Neftçi PFK probably wouldn't mind making the 4,000km trip from Baku either.
Mario Been (KRC Genk)Berend Scholten in Belgium
KRC Genk's Dutch coach Mario Been says he is keen to avoid PSV Eindhoven and FC Twente in today's draw after seeing off FC Luzern last night. "We are now among 32 very good European sides. We can be proud of that and competing against teams like these will only make us stronger. A lot of Dutch sides have been knocked out tonight, but I would like to avoid them at this stage."
Sujay Dutt in Sweden
Newspapers Aftonbladet and Expressen both opt for the same headline after AIK Solna's 2–0 win at PFC CSKA Moskva on Thursday: 'Miracle in Moscow'. After overturning a 1–0 defeat from the first leg, the Swedish side are back in the group stage of a European competition for the first time since reaching the UEFA Champions League in 1999. "It feels fantastic," said AIK club president Johan Strömberg. "They [CSKA] were favourites among many of the know-it-alls."

Martin Lorentzson scored the winner in the 93rd minute, providing double delight to elder brother Marcus. Three minutes before kick-off the 33-year-old had placed a 20 krona (€2.40) bet on a 2-0 win, with right-back Lorentzson scoring the second. He ended the night €2,000 wealthier.
Boaz Goren in Israel
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC are still smarting after Tuesday's UEFA Champions League elimination by FC BATE Borisov, but new hope is beginning to emerge. "We reached our potential in the second leg [drawing 1-1] as opposed to the first [when they lost 2-0]," said defender Shir Tzedek. "We had opportunities to cause a big shock."

They can still cause a few in the UEFA Europa League, and Tzedek says he hopes to draw a few of the continent's biggest sides today so "we can continue to bring honour and faith to our city". Goalkeeper Daniel Amos added: "It will be a great honour to play in the Europa League for our people in the little city of Kiryat Shmona."
Rodrigo Palacio (FC Internazionale Milano)The group stage lineup features eight sides that have lifted this trophy before, whether in its current format or as the UEFA Cup: Liverpool FC (3 times), FC Internazionale Milano (3), Club Atlético de Madrid (2), Tottenham Hotspur FC (2), VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach (2), Bayer 04 Leverkusen, PSV Eindhoven and SSC Napoli.
Draw procedure
Here it goes ... The 48 entrants – seven automatic, ten UEFA Champions League play-off losers and 31 UEFA Europa League play-off winners – have been split into four seeding pots based on their club coefficients. Each of the 12 groups to contain one team from each tier and no club can meet a side from their own association. See above for the pots.

To ensure that paired clubs from the same association play with different kick-off times (19.00CET) and (21.05CET), the 12 groups will be distinguished by colour: Groups A to F will be red and Groups G to L blue. When a paired club is drawn, for example, into a red group, the other paired club – once it has been drawn – will automatically be assigned to one of the first available blue group.

Teams from Pot 1 will be provisionally placed in the first position within their groups, teams from Pot 2 will provisionally take second position in their groups, and so on. Once the draw procedure has been completed, a computer draw will determine the final position of the teams within their group as well as the kick-off times of the different matches.

The draw result and full fixture list will be available 60 minutes after the draw ceremony.

Striking among the more far-flung places is, for the first time in an elite European competition, Azerbaijan. Last night Neftçi PFK earned a shock 3-1 victory away to APOEL FC, the Cypriot side who defied the odds in last season's UEFA Champions League by reaching the quarter-finals. Click here for a full round-up of the play-off second-leg action.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League group stage draw. The main event begins in about three hours from now, at 13.00CET, but in the mean time we will bring you news, views and insight from our reporters in Monaco and, as the 48 teams hail from 25 countries, the length and breadth of Europe.



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