Manchester City draw Juventus in Europa League

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The Independent Football

Big-spending Manchester City face a glamorous clash with Italian giants Juventus in the Europa League group stage.

Roberto Mancini's side, who booked their place in the group phase with a 3-0 aggregate win over Romanian side Timisoara last night, can now look forward to taking on Juve, twice European champions and three times victors in this competition in its former guise as the UEFA Cup.

The Blues will also face Austrian champions Salzburg and Polish champions Lech Poznan in Group A.

Five-times European champions Liverpool have been drawn against 1986 European champions Steaua Bucharest in Group K, along with 1989 UEFA Cup winners Napoli and FC Utrecht, who knocked out Celtic in the play-offs last night.

Europa League holders Atletico Madrid, who defeated Fulham in the final when the London club were coached by new Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson, will take on Bayer Leverkusen, Norwegian champions Rosenborg and Greek side Aris.

Zenit St Petersburg, the 2008 UEFA Cup winners, are in Group G alongside Anderlecht - who won the UEFA Cup in 1983 - plus AEK Athens and Hajduk Split of Croatia.

Sevilla, who won back-to-back UEFA Cup crowns in 2006 and 2007 but missed out on this season's Champions League after losing a play-off to Braga, are in the same group as Paris St Germain, 1997 European champions Borussia Dortmund and Ukrainian side Karpaty Lviv.

PSV Eindhoven, who were champions of Europe in 1988, have been drawn into Group I alongside Italian side Sampdoria, Metalist Kharkiv of Ukraine and Hungarian outfit Debrecen.

Swiss side Young Boys, knocked out of the Champions League by Tottenham in midweek, were drawn last into Group H alongside Stuttgart, Getafe and Motherwell's conquerors Odense.

Group C features Sporting Lisbon, Lille, Levski Sofia and Gent while Villarreal, who took the place of Real Mallorca after the Spanish islanders were kicked out of the competition on financial grounds, will take on Club Brugge of Belgium, Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb and PAOK Salonika of Greece in Group D.

AZ Alkmaar, losing UEFA Cup finalists in 1981, were first out of the hat in Group E and will take on Dynamo Kiev, BATE Borisov of Belarus and Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol.

The UEFA Cup winners of 2005, CSKA Moscow, face Italian side Palermo, Sparta Prague and Lausanne in Group F while 2003 champions Porto are up against Besiktas, CSKA Sofia and Rapid Vienna, who knocked out Aston Villa last night.

Liverpool club secretary Ian Sylvester said the club were relieved to have avoided long journeys to the Europa League opponents and confirmed he expected Roy Hodgson to look for a replacement Javier Mascherano after the club agreed a fee with Barcelona for the Argentina midfielder.

Sylvester said: "Mascherano is one of the best midfielders in the world and he has decided to go, and I'm sure Roy would not want one of his best players to leave without anyone coming in.

"There's still a few days until the transfer window closes.

"We need to improve on last season domestically, there's no doubt about that, we want to get back into the Champions League.

"Seventh place means that you start in the Europa League very early on, and it causes disruption to your pre-season plan.

"We need to improve on last year and there's no secret there's a big difference in the income between the Champions League and the Europa League.

"But we would rather be in Europe than not."

Liverpool, who returned today from a long trip to Turkey, will face Dutch side Utrecht, Steaua Bucharest from Romania and Italian club Napoli.

Sylvester added: "We don't have to travel to Ukraine or Belarus - we've just been on a four and a half hour flight - so travel-wise could be a lot worse.

"I don't know too much about Utrecht but any team that beats Celtic 4-0 must be a decent side.

"We will treat all three opponents with respect - Steaua Bucharest were top of the seeds in the second pot so that will be difficult too."

The draw for the UEFA Europa League group stages are as follows:

Group A:

Juventus

Man City

SV Red Bull Salzburg

Lech Poznan

Group B

Atletico Madrid

Bayer Leverkusen

Rosenborg

Aris Salonika

Group C

Sporting

Lille

Levski Sofia

AA Gent

Group D

Villarreal

Club Brugge

Dinamo Zagreb

PAOK Salonika

Group E

AZ

Dynamo Kiev

BATE

FC Sheriff

Group F

CSKA Moscow

Palermo

Sparta Prague

Lausanne

Group G

Zenit St. Petersburg

Anderlecht

AEK Athens

Hajduk Split

Group H

VfB Stuttgart

Getafe

Odense BK

Young Boys

Group I

PSV

Sampdoria

FC Metalist Kharkiv

Debrecen

Group J

Sevilla

PSG

Borussia Dortmund

Karpaty Lviv

Group K

Liverpool

Steaua Bucuresti

Napoli

FC Utrecht

Group L

FC Porto

Besiktas

CSKA Sofia

Rapid Vienna

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