Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao handed interesting Europa League group stage draws

Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao learned on Thursday who their opponents will be for the Europa League group stages after the draw took place in Monaco.

Sevilla were not in the draw after they were knocked out in the play-off round by Hannover, whilst Athletic Bilbao found themselves automatically in the draw following the promotion of their original play-off round opponents Trabzonspor to the Champions League, in place of Fenerbahce. Atletico overcame Vitoria Guimares with a comfortable 6-0 aggregate play-off round score.

Seeded in Pot one, Gregorio Manzano’s Atleti face a tough double-header with Udinese, and the more comfortable prospect of French side Stade Rennais and FC Sion. Sion’s place in the group stages is still yet to be confirmed however, in light of using ineligible players in their play-off victory over Celtic. Should UEFA decide, Sion could be replaced by Celtic.

Pot two seeded Bilbao face an intriguing meeting with heavy-spending Paris Saint-Germain. Austrian Bundesliga runners-up Salzburg are also in Group F and will look to improve on last year’s group stage elimination that saw them not record a win, in sharp contrast to six wins from six in the 2009-10 edition of the competition. Slovakian side Slovan Bratislava complete the group that Marcelo Bielsa’s men will be expected to progress from.

Full Europa League 2011-12 group stage draw
Group A
Tottenham Hotspur
Rubin Kazan
Shamrock Rovers

Group B
FC Copenhagen
Standard Liege
Vorskla Poltava

Group C
PSV Eindhoven
Hapoel Tel Aviv
Rapid Bucharest
Legia Warsaw

Group D
Sporting CP
FC Zurich
FC Vaslui

Group E
Dynamo Kiev
Stoke City
Maccabi Tel Aviv

Group F
Paris Saint-Germain
Slovan Bratislava

Group G
AZ Alkmaar
Metalist Kharkiv
Austria Vienna

Group H
Birmingham City

Group I
Stade Rennais

Group J
Steaua Bucharest
Maccabi Haifa
AEK Larnaca

Group K
Wisla Krakow

Group L
AEK Athens
Lokomotiv Moscow
Sturm Gratz

2011-12 Europa League competition schedule
Group stage (drawn August 26)
Matchday 1 – September 15
Matchday 2 – September 29
Matchday 3 – October 20
Matchday 4 – November 3
Matchday 5 – November 30-December 1
Matchday 6 – December 14-15

Round of 32 (drawn December 16)
First leg – February 16
Second leg – February 23

Round of 16 (drawn December 16)
First leg – March 8
Second leg – March 15

Quarter-finals (drawn March 16)
First leg – March 29
Second leg – April 5

Semi-finals (drawn March 16)
First leg – April 19
Second leg – April 26

Stadionul National, Bucherest – May 9

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