Villarreal, Athletic & Celta in EL draw

Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo have avoided the so-called big boys in Friday’s Europa League group-stage draw.

Villarreal dropped into the Europa League after they crashed out to Monaco in the Champions League playoffs, and they will face Steaua Bucharest, FC Zurich and Osmanlispor in Group L.

Athletic Bilbao, meanwhile, take on Genk, Rapid Vienna and Italian debutants Sassuolo in Group F as Celta Vigo have been handed arguably the toughest pool on their return to European competition, with Ajax, Standard Liege and Panathinaikos standing in their way.

The group stage kicks off on September 15, a day after the Champions League.

Group A: Manchester United, Fenerbahce, Feyenoord, Zorya

Group B: Olympiakos, APOEL, Young Boys, Astana

Group C: Anderlecht, Saint-Etienne, Mainz, Qabala

Group D: Zenit St Petersburg, AZ, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Dundalk

Group E: Viktoria Plzen, Roma, Austria Vienna, Astra Giurgiu

Group F: Athletic Bilbao, Genk, Rapid Vienna, Sassuolo

Group G: Ajax, Standard Liege, Celta Vigo, Panathinaikos

Group H: Shakhtar Donetsk, Braga, Gent, Konyaspor

Group I: Schalke, Salzburg, Krasnodar, Nice

Group J: Fiorentina, PAOK, Slovan Liberec, Qarabag

Group K: Inter, Sparta Prague, Southampton, Hapoel Beer-Sheva

Group L: Villarreal, Steaua Bucharest, FC Zurich, Osmanlispor