MANCHESTER, Sporting Alert – Manchester United have been drawn in Group A of the Europa League on Friday afternoon and will face a relatively unknown side during the group stages.
The English Premier League giants were placed alongside Fenerbahce, Feyenoord and Zorya Luhansk and manager Jose Mourinho, who admits that he would have rather be playing in the Champions League, says he intends to play strong lineups throughout the competition.
One of the trips Manchester United must make is to Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk, which finished fourth in their division last season and is among the smallest clubs in the competition.
The Red Devils have never faced Zorya Luhansk before, and the Ukraine side will be making its Europa League debut, after finally getting past the play-offs stage.
Also in Group A are Fenerbahçe, which finished second in the Turkish league last season and Feyenoord, the third place finishers in the Dutch Eredivisie last term.
Fenerbahçe will be led by former Manchester United and Arsenal forward Robin van Persie, who joined them last summer from the Red Devils.
The Turkish side qualified for the group stage through a 5-0 aggregate victory over Grasshoppers in the qualifying round.
Feyenoord, in the meantime, will suit out former Liverpool players, Dutchman attacker Dirk Kuyt and Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones.
Meanwhile, commenting on the group draw, Mourinho said at his press conference: “There are groups in the Champions League that are very similar, so it is good for that.
“We all know the competition is not the same as the Champions League but to have Manchester United playing against clubs with tradition like Fenerbahce and Feyenoord is good for us.
“I don’t have more vision about Ukraine. 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 Thursday nights at Old Trafford.
“It is good for the fans and for the players because it will help motivation.”
Southampton, the other English Premier League outfits in the competition have been drawn alongside Inter Milan, Sparta Prague and Hapoel Be’er Sheva from Israel.
Europa League Group Draw
Manchester United, Fenerbahce, Feyenoord, Zorya Luhansk
Olympiacos, APOEL, Young Boys, FC Astana
Anderlecht, Saint-Etienne, FSV Mainz, Gabala SC
Zenit St. Petersburg, AZ Alkmaar, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Dundalk FC
Viktoria Plzen, AS Roma, Austria Wien, FC Astra Giurgiu
Athletic Club, KRC Genk, SK Rapid Wien, US Sassuolo Calcio
AFC Ajax, Standard de Liege, Celta de Vigo, Panathinaikos FC
Shakhtar Donetsk, SC Braga, KAA Gent, Konyaspor
FC Schalke, FC Salzburg, FC Krasnodar, OGC Nice
Fiorentina, PAOK FC, Slovan Liberec, Qarabag FK
Inter Milan, AC Sparta Praha, Southampton, Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC
Villarreal, FC Steaua Bucharest, FC Zurich, Osmanlispor A.S.