Inter have been handed an all eastern European affair and should be confident of their chances of progression to the later stages of the Europa League after the draw was made on Friday.
The Italiians, after gaining a 2-2 draw against Romanian club Vaslui to seal their place in the tournament, will be paired alongside Russian’s Rubin Kazan, Serbian side Partizan and Azerbaijan outfit Neftchi in Group H.
Elsewhere, European holders Atletico Madrid begin their defence of the title with a relatively straight forward group containing Hapoel Tel Aviv of Israel, Czech side Viktoria Plzen, and Portuguese side Academica.
But it would be naive to write off the Czech side’s chances of progression having surprised many with their Champions League performances last season.
In Group A, Udinese’s punishment for failing to qualify for the Champions League on penalties against Braga, is a tough group alongside Liverpool, big-spending Russians Anzhi, and Young Boys from Switzerland.
Udinese looked favourites to go through in their clash with Braga, but a Maicosuel failed panenka penalty gave the Portuguese outfit the impetus to seal a Champions League spot.
Liverpool avoided a late scare from Hearts to book their place in the group stages, while Anzhi hammered Alkmaar 5-0 away from home to ensure they would be playing European football this season.
Napoli and PSV were drawn together in Group F. Dick Advocaat’s side qualified with an emphatic 14-0 aggregate demolition of Montenegro minnows Zeta. While Athletic Bilbao have to negotiate the test of Lyon in Group I, if they are to reach a second successive Europa League final.
Tottenham, Lazio and Panathinaikos clash in Group J and the Greeks have never met any of the sides they will face in the group.
The first round of group matches start on September 20, and the final will take place in the Amsterdam ArenA on June 13 next year.
|Udinese||Hapoel Tel Aviv||Fenerbahce||Club Brugge|
|Young Boys||Viktoria Plzen||Borussia Monchengladbach||Newcastle United|
|Athletic Bilbao||Panathinaikos||Metalist Kharkiv||Hannover|
|Ironi Kiryat Shmona||Maribor||Rapid Wien||Helsingborgs|