The eight Macedonian internationals participating in the group stages of the Europa League learned their opponents during today’s draw.
Macedonia has never been represented by more players in the Europa League than this year’s edition. Eight players with seven different clubs reached the group stages of the competition with Goran Pandev and Napoli being considered one of the serious contenders to lift the trophy.
Goran Pandev and Napoli had an automatic place in the Europa League group stages for winning the Italian Cup last season. In the draw, Napoli fell in Group F where their opponents will be PSV Eindhoven, AIK and Dnipro. Napoli will be a strong favorite to top the table and advance further in the competition.
PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands)
Club Brugge, the team of Ivan Trichkovski, was drawn in Group D together with Newcastle United, Bordeaux and Marítimo. Newcastle looks to be the strongest team on paper while the other three teams will battle for a second place finish, which also leads to a place in the Round of 32.
Club Brugge (Belgium)
Newcastle United (England)
The Macedonian international who received the toughest group would have to be Agim Ibraimi and his team Maribor. They will face Tottenham, Lazio and Panathinaikos, making it very unlikely that Maribor will finish in the top two of the group.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Darko Tasevski were drawn in Group I with Lyon, Athletic Bilbao and Sparta Praha. Lyon and Athletic Bilbao, the runners up in last year’s edition of the Europa League, look to be the early favorites to finish in the top two.
Athletic Bilbao (Spain)
Sparta Praha (Czech Republic)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona (Israel)
Daniel Georgievski and Steaua București received a tricky group with Stuttgart, København and Molde. Stuttgart is a solid German team while København has a good track record in European competitions so Steaua likely need to overcome one of those team to secure a top two finish.
Steaua București (Romania)
One group saw two teams that feature Macedonian players in Partizan (Aleksandar Lazevski and Stefan Ashkovski) and Neftçi (Igor Mitreski), who defeated APOEL to reach the group stages. The other two clubs in their group are Inter and Rubin Kazan, the overwhelming favorites to occupy the first two places on the standings.
Rubin Kazan (Russia)
Every team in the 12 groups will take part in 6 matches, home and away matches against each team in that respective group. The top two teams in the 12 groups will advance to the next round of the competition. The group stage action starts on 20 September and ends on 6 December.