Friday 26 August 2016

Europa League Group A: The lowdown

United have been drawn alongside Fenerbahce, Feyenoord and group stage debutants Zorya Luhansk in Group A of this season's Europa League.

The Reds were the first club to be pulled out of the bowl in the glitzy ceremony in Monaco, and Jose Mourinho's side were put into one of the more attractive-looking groups, alongside Robin Van Persie's current employers, the perennial Dutch powerhouses and the little-known Ukranians.

Mourinho welcomed the draw, saying the 'difficult' opponents will help to keep United on their toes.
He said:"There are groups in the Champions League that have a similar quality, so it is good for that, we know that it will be a difficult group but I think that is a good thing.
"If you have teams without expression then even the fans may not enjoy nights at Old Trafford, it is good for the fans and the players and also to help keep the team motivated.
"I think it is good for the competition as well because it does not have the same glamour as the Champions League but having a team like Manchester United against high quality sides like Feyenoord and Fenerbahce is good for everyone.
"I do not have a vision about the Ukranian team and their quality but it will be an interesting group."

van Persie's Fenerbahce finished second in the Turkish league last term behind Besiktas, and qualified for the group stage via a 5-0 aggregate victory over Grasshoppers of Switzerland in the play-off round.

Former United man Nani was also among last season's alumni but has since moved on but Dutchman Van Persie is their star man and will no doubt relish a reunion with the Reds.
Feyenoord, another of RvP's former sides, finished third in the Eredivisie in 2015/16- 21 points behind champions PSV.
The Rotterdam-based outfit are managed by former Arsenal full-back Giovanni van Bronckhorst and their squad includes former Liverpool pair Dirk Kuyt and Brad Jones.

Zorya Luhansk, from Odessa in the west of Ukraine, have reached the play-off round in the last two seasons but this is their first time in the group stages.

Finishing fourth in their league in 2015/16, they are one of the smallest clubs in the competition and have never faced United. 

Group game dates: Feyenoord (A, 297 miles) 15.9. 16 (1800 KO)
Zorya Luhansk (H) 29.9.16 (2005 KO)
Fenerbahce (H) 20.10.16 (2005 KO)
Fenerbahce (A, 1,675 miles) 3.11.16 (1800 KO)
Feyenoord (H) 24.11.16 (2005 KO)
Zorya Luhansk (A, 1,922 miles) 8.12.16 (1800 KO) 

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