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The second tier of European football may not contain as many big names as its grander edition, but the quality of football is not far behind in any aspect. The road to Amsterdam will see 48 teams battle it out for a spot in the knockout phase of the tournament, with the group draw taking palce earlier today. Defending champions Atletico Madrid have been handed a rather easy run in Group B as they are set to face Israeli champions Hapoel Tel Aviv, third-placed Czech side Viktoria Plzen and Portuguese cup holders Academica.
Meanwhile, Liverpool have been handed arguably the toughest of the draws from among the English sides as they see Russian heavyweights Anzhi Makhachkala, third-placed Italian side Udinese and third-placed Swiss club BSC Young Boys in Group A.
Newcastle return to European football after a gap of six years and if they continue to dazzle with the brand of football than won them several fans last season, their progress from Group D should be a fairly easy task. They will take on fifth-placed French club Bordeaux, Belgian runners-up Club Brugge and fifth-placed Portuguese side Maritimo as they take on the task of extending their success on to the European football scene as well.
Liverpool successfully fended off resistance from Scottish club Hearts while Newcastle conquered Greek side Atromitos to reach the group stages of this yearâ€™s Europa League. Although their play-off successes were not as dominant as one would have hoped, the two clubs are still part of one of the top league across Europe and can prove to be quite a handful for their opponents in the European competition.
Tottenham got an automatic qualification to the group stages owing to their fourth place finish in the Premier League last term. Although they were hopeful of reaching the more elite of the two competitions, Chelseaâ€™s stunning victory in the Champions League now forces them to gun for the Europa League title instead. Spurs have been handed a fairly competitive slot in Group J and they will take on fourth-placed Serie A side Lazio, Slovenian champs Maribor and Greek runner-ups Panathinaikos.
The Europa League may not have the big guns of Europe, but their lesser counterparts have what it takes to put up a great show of football. The English clubs go into the competition in a bid to overturn the Spanish dominance that the competition saw last term and after their impressive performances last season, fans will be backing their clubs to awe Europe equally well.
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