Man United, Arsenal carry English hopes in Europa League
Manchester United and last year’s finalists Arsenal headline an English trio that also features Europa League newcomers Wolves while record five – time champions Sevilla figure to be among the primary contenders as the group stage begins Thursday .
Scottish rivals Celtic and Rangers face testing paths to the knockout rounds as bitter foes Roma and Lazio bid to end Italy ’s two -decade wait for the title.
Porto , PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord are the other former European Cup winners in a competition that will welcome the eight third -place finishers from the Champions League groups for the knockout phase .
United , Europa League winners in 2017 , will host Astana in Group L as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ’s side face opponents from Kazakhstan for the first time in club history .
They will be expected to progress with relative ease from a group that also includes Partizan Belgrade and former finalists AZ Alkmaar of the Netherlands .
Unai Emery ’s Arsenal return to the competition after last season ’s 4- 1 defeat by Chelsea in the final in Baku saw the Blues pip them to Champions League qualification .
The Gunners visit Eintracht Frankfurt to kick off their campaign , with 10 -time Belgian champions Standard Liege and Portugal ’s Vitoria Guimaraes also in Group F .
Wolves, in their first European campaign since 1980 , will meet Portuguese club Braga in their opening game at Molineux.
Nuno Espirito Santo ’s team came through three ties just to reach the group stage . They beat Torino 5 – 3 on aggregate in the play – offs .
“ I think any team in the Europa League are a good team who we will respect going up against them . We will give everything , try to play and try to beat any team ,” said Wolves winger Adama Traore .
“ Any player wants to play in Europe , but the Europa League is exciting , it is a new thing for us and it ’s a good thing . ”
– Six newcomers –
Scottish champions Celtic travel to French Cup holders Rennes in Group E , with Italian Cup holders Lazio and CFR Cluj, the Romanian side to whom they lost in Champions League qualifying , completing a tricky section .
Steven Gerrard ’ s Rangers are at home to Jaap Stam ’ s Feyenoord on Thursday and will do well to navigate a group with Porto and Swiss champions Young Boys.
Roma will take on Istanbul Basaksehir in their first game while Moenchengladbach host Austria ’ s Wolfsberg — not to be confused with German outfit Wolfsburg .
Austria boast two representatives with LASK Linz among the six debutants — alongside Espanyol , Wolves, Wolfsberg, Olexandriya and Ferencvaros — in the tournament .
UEFA will distribute 560 million euros to clubs competing in this season ’ s Europa League, just over a quarter of the 1 . 95 billion euros allocated to those participating in the Champions League.
Each of the 48 clubs in the group stage will receive a base of 2 . 92 million euros , with lifting the trophy worth just under 18 million euros in basic prize money .
Teams will net 570,000 euros per win and 190 ,000 for a draw with additional revenue coming through television markets and money depending on each team ’s UEFA ranking .
By comparison , the Champions League winners stand to take home around 75 million euros before considerable sums are tacked based on the market pool and coefficient ranking .
The final will be held in the Polish city of Gdansk on May 27, 2020 .
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