Manchester United and Arsenal have been drawn against strong opponents in the Europa League and while both have the quality to progress, they cannot afford to take their group stage games lightly if they want to progress.
– Europa League draw: Man United and Arsenal face tough groups
Manchester United meet Real Sociedad, who finished sixth in LaLiga last season, Moldova’s Sheriff Tiraspol (they beat Real Madrid in the Champions League last season) and Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia. Meanwhile, Arsenal will travel to the Netherlands to play PSV Eindhoven, who lost to Rangers in the Champions League play-offs midweek, and to the far northern tip of Norway to prepare for FK Bodo/Glimt (the AS Roma 6-1 defeated) to meet Europa Conference League last season) and Swiss team FC Zürich.
Despite the loss of striker Alexander Isak to Newcastle, Real Sociedad still have a talented squad with promising young talents like striker Mohamed-Ali Cho and midfielder Takefusa Kubo, established internationals like Mikel Merino and Mikel Oyarzabal and they are led by the 36-year-old – old David Silva, who will return to Manchester after 10 years for City. The team plays attacking and passing football and their manager Imanol Alguacil is doing a great job in guiding them to their first Spanish Cup win in 33 years in 2020 (played in 2021).
Sheriff was one of the upsets in the Champions League last season. They shocked the footballing world when they beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the Champions League at the Bernabeu last September, only to finish third in their group and end up in the Europa League, where they lost to Braga in the last 32 rounds. However, they are not as good as last year. They have a new coach in Stjepan Tomas, who wasn’t really successful in Turkey. This is a young team and the most difficult thing for their opponents will be the long journey to Transnistria in Moldova.
Finally, Omonia Nicosia, coached by Celtic legend Neil Lennon, might be the weakest team in the group on paper but they have a passionate travel support and some veteran players like Hungary international Adam Lang, former Sunderland defender Adam Matthews and the former US international Mix Diskerud.
Arsenal’s group is quite similar to United’s group in terms of opponent types. PSV Eindhoven are obviously the strongest team and will be eager to impress after being narrowly beaten by Rangers (3-2 agg) in the final round of the Champions League play-off. In his first season on the bench, Ruud Van Nistelrooy returns to England, where he enjoyed many successful years as a player at Manchester United, and he has a side to match: witnessing Ajax’s defeat in the Dutch Super Cup. He has a talented team that blew away Ajax in the Dutch Super Cup in July (5-3).
Luuk De Jong, back from Barcelona, is the captain and leader but players like Cody Gakpo, Xavi Simons, Ibrahim Sangaré, Joey Veerman and Jordan Teze make this team solid and dangerous. The atmosphere in the Philips Stadium will also be very special.
Arsenal’s most exotic trip, however, will take place in Bodo in the far north of Norway. The 2021 Norwegian champions were beaten by Dynamo Zagreb in the Champions League playoffs this week to land here. They play in a small stadium on a plastic turf, and it’s enough of a logistical challenge to distract the visiting teams from the task at hand. Roma and Jose Mourinho lost twice there last season.
Despite losing some of his best players in the last 18 months – like Jens Petter Hauge’s move to AC Milan – Kjetil Knudsen is doing a great job as a coach, they still play great football with intensity and will be hard to beat in their three home games.
After all, FC Zurich looks like the weakest team in the group on paper. They won the Swiss league in 2022 but lost the coach who got them there, Andre Breitenreiter, to Hoffenheim, who was replaced by Franco Foda, the former Austrian head coach. So far this season things are not going well: they are bottom of the Swiss Super League and the only team without a win after five games. Wilfried Gnonto, 18, who made his Italy debut in the Nations League last June, is their best player and they managed to keep him over the summer. However, escaping this group could be a challenge or pose a serious challenge for Arsenal.
https://www.espn.com/soccer/uefa-europa-league/story/4730265/man-unitedarsenals-europa-league-groups-will-challenge-thembut-both-should-prevail Man United, Arsenal’s Europa League groups will challenge them, but both should prevail