Big names face difficult groups
Friday, August 27, 2010
The group-stage draw has matched holders Club Atlético de Madrid with Bayer 04 Leverkusen while Liverpool FC are in a group involving FC Steaua Bucureşti, SSC Napoli and FC Utrecht.
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Defending UEFA Europa League champions Club Atlético de Madrid have been matched with Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Rosenborg BK and Aris Thessaloniki FC in the 2010/11 group-stage draw in Monaco.
The 48 clubs, from 24 different associations, have been drawn into 12 groups. While Atlético are in Group B the side they beat in the semi-finals last season – Liverpool FC – will face fellow former European champions FC Steaua Bucureşti, SSC Napoli and FC Utrecht in Group K.
Juventus and Roberto Mancini's Manchester City FC are together in Group A, where they are joined by FC Salzburg and KKS Lech Poznań. Sevilla FC, who won the UEFA Cup in 2006 and 2007 and are among ten teams transferring from the UEFA Champions League play-off round, take on Paris Saint-Germain FC, BV Borussia Dortmund and FC Karpaty Lviv in Group J.
In the confirmed fixture list, games will be played on 16 and 30 September, 22 October, 4 November, 1/2 and 15/16 December. Where possible, teams from the same association will kick off at different times and, on Matchdays 5 and 6, on separate days. In the round of 32 and round of 16 draws in Nyon on 17 December, the top two sides from each section will be joined by the eight teams which finish third in their UEFA Champions League group. The final is at the new Dublin Arena on 18 May 2011.
At the ceremony in the Grimaldi Forum, Republic of Ireland midfielder Ronnie Whelan was named as the UEFA Europa League final ambassador and among his first acts was to make a special presentation to Atlético striker Diego Forlán for his performances in last season's competition, where the Uruguayan international struck the extra-time winner in the decider against Fulham FC. "It was the first time I had played in a final," Forlán said. "To score two minutes from the end, it was amazing."